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Pet Allergies: Identifying & Treating Allergies From Our Furry Friends

Pet Allergies: Identifying & Treating Allergies From Our Furry Friends

Written by Dr. Cristina Vo

Pets can be your best friend.  Most households in the United States have at least one pet.  Studies show that pets can provide many health benefits including decreased blood pressure, cholesterol levels, triglyceride levels, reduction in stress, anxiety or depression, and increased opportunities for physical activity and socialization.

Unfortunately, many individuals have an allergy (allergic rhinoconjunctivitis) to animals.  Animal allergies can impact your daily life even if you do not have a pet, but are in contact with other people with pets/animal exposure including family members, friends, peers or colleagues.  It is estimated that 15-30% of people are affected by pet allergies.  Animal allergens can be found in urine, saliva, skin, and feces; and can be carried on hair and dander.  Hairless pets may also produce allergy inducing-dander, thus truly “hypoallergenic” cats and dogs do not exist.  You may be more or less allergic to individual animals, however, any furry or feathered animal produces proteins that may cause allergies.

Animal allergens are small and lightweight and have the potential to remain suspended in the air like pollen for long periods of time before settling on surfaces.  Animal allergens can be easily spread as people can carry pet allergens on their hair, clothing and belongings.  Pet hair/fur can also collect outdoor allergens, which can be introduced into the home and induce allergy symptoms.

Animal Dander Allergy Symptoms

  • Nasal congestion
  • Runny nose
  • Sneezing
  • Coughing
  • Watery, red, itchy eyes
  • Itchy nose and/or throat
  • Exacerbation of atopic dermatitis or asthma

How do I know if I am allergic to animals?

If you suspect you have an animal allergy, tests can be performed for verification including skin testing or blood tests–other inhalant allergies which can contribute to rhinoconjunctivitis symptoms may also be evaluated.

Some people may prefer to rehome their pet if they have animal allergies, although it may take time for symptoms to improve as animal dander can remain present within the home for up to 3-6 months.  For other individuals who may prefer to keep their pets, thankfully there are options available including allergen avoidance measures, medications, and immunotherapy.

Strategies to Reduce Animal Dander and Symptoms

  • Keep pets out of the bedroom and rooms where allergic person spends most of their time
  • Use a HEPA air cleaner in bedroom and living spaces
  • Keep pets off furniture and out of cars
  • Bathe pets 1-2 times/week to help decrease allergens
  • After direct exposure to pets, wash hands/face or shower and change clothing to remove pet allergens

To learn more about pet dander allergies and how to treat them, contact us today.  The Allergy & Asthma specialists at Advanced Specialty Care can diagnose a wide range of allergy types and help manage your condition.  Book an appointment by calling us or requesting your appointment online, for one of our offices in Danbury, New Milford, Norwalk, and Ridgefield.

Dr. Cristina Vo, Allergy & Asthma specialist at Advanced Specialty Care.Dr. Cristina Vo

Dr. Cristina Vo is an Allergy & Asthma doctor at Advanced Specialty Care, treating adult & pediatric patients in our Danbury & Norwalk offices.


The Allergy & Asthma specialists at Advanced Specialty Care, Drs. Yogen Dave, Neetu Godhwani, Purvi Shah, Cristina Vo, and APRN Michelle DiMauro, specialize in all of your family’s Allergy concerns–offering the region’s largest and longest-running Immunotherapy program.  To schedule your appointment with an Allergy & Asthma Specialist at Advanced Specialty Care, with offices in Danbury, New Milford, Ridgefield & Norwalk, CT, call us at (203) 830-4700 or request your appointment today.

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Multi-Specialty Private Practice with six locations in Fairfield County, CT