Understanding and Diagnosing Pet Allergies

Understanding and Diagnosing Pet Allergies

Understanding and Diagnosing Pet Allergies

What are pet allergies?

Pet allergies are caused by an overreaction of the immune system to proteins found in pet excretions such as saliva, urine, and dander. The symptoms of pet allergies can vary, but common signs include sneezing, coughing, runny nose, itchy eyes, and skin rashes or hives. In severe cases, pet allergies can trigger asthma attacks or anaphylaxis, a life-threatening allergic reaction.

Who is most at risk for pet allergies?

Anyone can develop a pet allergy, but some people are more susceptible than others. Individuals with a family history of allergies or asthma, as well as those with weakened immune systems, are at higher risk. While it's possible to develop a pet allergy at any age, most people develop symptoms in childhood or early adulthood. Exposure to pets at a young age may actually prevent the development of pet allergies in some people.

How are pet allergies diagnosed?

If you suspect you have a pet allergy, see an allergist for testing. An allergist can perform a skin test or a blood test to determine what allergens are triggering your symptoms. Skin tests involve a small prick on your skin that introduces allergens, while a blood test measures the level of antibodies in your blood. Once the cause of your symptoms is determined, you and your allergist can come up with a treatment plan.

What are some treatments for pet allergies?

The most effective treatment for pet allergies is avoidance. If you're allergic to pets, it's best to avoid them altogether. However, for pet lovers who can't bear the thought of giving up their furry friends, there are other options. Regularly bathing your pet can reduce the amount of pet dander in your home. Investing in a good HEPA filter can help trap airborne allergens. Medications like antihistamines, decongestants, and nasal corticosteroids can help relieve symptoms. In severe cases, immunotherapy or allergy shots may be recommended.


Pet allergies can be a frustrating and uncomfortable condition, but with the right diagnosis and treatment, symptoms can be managed. If you suspect you have a pet allergy, don't suffer in silence, see an allergist for assistance. With the right strategies, pet lovers can live in harmony with their furry friends while keeping their allergy symptoms under control.