Are you or your child constantly sneezing, wheezing, or suffering from itchy eyes when spending time around the family dog? Pet allergies are common, especially among those who already have a history of allergies. This condition is defined as an allergic reaction to proteins found in an animal's skin cells, saliva, or urine. The most common cause of reaction is the dander, or dead flakes of skin, that an animal sheds. While any animal with fur can cause an allergic reaction, these allergies are typically associated with cats and dogs.
The best way to identify the cause of the reaction is to head to your doctor for diagnosis, but there are also several signs and symptoms you can watch for. We’ve put together a guide to pet allergies to help you be ready to take care of your sniffly child—or yourself!
Does My Kid Have Allergies?
There are several common signs to look out for when determining if your child has allergies or is suffering from a minor cold. Most importantly, these symptoms will likely worsen the longer your child is around an animal and subside when the two are apart.
Pet allergy symptoms:
- Runny nose
- Itchy, red, or watery eyes
- Postnasal drip
If you or your child suffer from asthma already, you may notice some different and more severe symptoms. Pet allergies that contribute to asthma may cause difficulty breathing, chest pain or tightness, and wheezing. It is important to seek care for trouble breathing and worsening asthma symptoms right away. The emergency trained providers at the Urgency Room can quickly treat severe allergic reactions and asthma exacerbations. Alternatively, some people can experience a skin reaction, commonly known as allergic dermatitis. Symptoms such as eczema, hives, and itchy skin will likely occur after coming in contact directly with an animal.
How to Treat Allergies in Children
If you suspect your child has a pet allergy, make an appointment with your pediatrician, who will be able to make an accurate diagnosis. Your doctor will likely perform a physical examination, examine your child’s medical history, and order a blood or skin test. After diagnosis, he or she will prescribe the best treatment for your child.
Ultimately, the ideal treatment is preventative: simply avoid contact with furry animals altogether. Unfortunately, it’s not always that easy. Even if you don’t have a pet, your friend or child’s playmate probably does. If you can, avoid spending time in homes filled with pet dander, and if you have a pet yourself, try to keep her outside or in the garage only. Your doctor may also suggest medication or other measures to help manage symptoms.
Once you or your child have been diagnosed with a pet allergy, there are a few things you may want to change regarding your lifestyle. This may include finding a new home for your pet or making significant changes to your home if you decide to keep him.
If You Decide to Rehome Your Pet
While finding a new home for your pet can eliminate the source of your allergies, you may still have a significant amount of allergen throughout your house for several weeks or months. This can cause symptoms to linger than you may have hoped. The good news is that there are some things you can do to help speed up the dissipation process.
Your first step is to deep clean your entire home—and if you’re the one with the allergy, you might want to call in a professional to handle this. This includes cleaning the walls and ceilings, as well as washing clothes, dusting, and vacuuming thoroughly. The next thing you should do is replace upholstered furniture, carpet, and bedding, if possible. These types of materials can be harder to clean and hold in the allergen longer.
If You Can’t Live Without Fido
We should note that if you or your child’s allergies are severe, parting with your pet is the best option in order to keep him or her healthy and happy. But if you just can’t bear to separate from your family pet, there are some measures you can take to help minimize allergy symptoms. Investing in a high-efficiency particulate air (HEPA) filter may help reduce pet allergens, as well as other particles in the air.
Keep the pet out of your child’s room or out of the house altogether. This will help avoid contaminating clothes, bedding, and carpeting. If you can, remove carpet and upholstered furniture in the areas of your home where your pet typically spends time. The allergens will attach to these things easier than they might to leather furniture or wood flooring. Even replacing your curtains can help reduce the presence of the allergen in your home.
Treat Your Allergies at The Urgency Room
Allergies are usually relatively harmless, but severe reactions can be life-threatening. If you notice you or your child dealing with severe allergy symptoms, head to the nearest Urgency Room today to be diagnosed and treated. Our board-certified emergency room physicians will be able to see you quicker than in a regular emergency room. We are open 365 days a year at convenient locations in Eagan, Woodbury, and Vadnais Heights.