Pet allergy symptoms appear during or shortly after exposure to the animal. Allergies to pets, particularly to cats and dogs, are a common cause of allergic disease, including asthma and allergic rhinitis (hay fever).These symptoms may linger long after the animal is gone. This is because the dander remains in the air, on furniture or on your clothing. The allergy results in: Sneezing, Itchy, watery eyes, Runny nose, Congestion. Additionally, contact with a pet may trigger skin allergy symptoms including itchy skin or raised, red patches (hives). Pets can also trigger asthma symptoms, causing wheezing, difficulty breathing or chest tightness.
The most effective way to manage pet and other allergic rhinitis symptoms is to avoid the allergen(s) causing the symptoms. Antihistamines like Allegra, Claritin, Benadryl, or Zyrtec and other over-the-counter allergy medications may help relieve symptoms, but they are not ideal as a long-term treatment. Decongestants, which reduce swelling in the nose and relieve congestion; examples are over-the-counter Sudafed and Allegra-D. Other drugs, which affect allergy or asthma symptoms in different ways; prescription steroids -- such as Flonase or Nasonex sprays -- are a common treatment for allergies. Both Flonase and Nasonex are available over the counter and by prescription. Allergy shots have a proven track record as an effective form of long-term treatment (immunotherapy).
Projects such as ‘Sensitization to Rabbit Allergens in Italy – A Multicentre Study in Atopic Subjects without Occupational Exposure’, ‘Association between Pet Ownership and the Sensitization to Pet Allergens in Adults with Various Allergic Diseases’; ‘Do asthma and allergy influence subsequent pet keeping? An analysis of childhood and adulthood’ are in progress.
The sensitization rate for animal allergens was 20.4% for dog, 15.0% for cat, and 9.0% for rabbit. Direct exposure to dogs (72.0%) was significantly higher than that of other animals (18.4% for cats and 16.7% for rabbits), whereas 'no contact' with cats (78.3%) and rabbits (83.3%) was significantly higher than with dogs (26.8%; P<0.0001).