Pets are a part of our family. They are in our homes. They grow up with our children. But just because our children love our pet doesn’t mean their immune systems will be as accepting. That immune rejection is pet allergies.

What Are Pet Allergies? 

Pet allergies are an immunological reaction of the body to animal dander (skin flakes), saliva, urine, or feces. Studies suggest that exposure to pets like dogs and cats in early childhood can increase the incidences of developing pet allergy [1]. Due to an allergy, the child may show symptoms like runny nose, watery eyes, sneezing, coughing, etc. Some studies suggest that pet ownership prior to birth can also lead to pediatric asthma. [2]

Your child may present with skin symptoms like a sudden rash or eczema when the allergen comes into contact with the skin. [3] It is not only dogs or cats, but all types of animals—even rats, hamsters, guinea pigs, etc. can produce a reaction in a child who is allergic to pets.

Does My Child Really Have Pet Allergies

Figuring out if your little actually has pet allergies can be difficult without proper medical testing. There are many other offenders in your house that can cause symptoms very much like pet allergies, like dust mites and molds. Your baby may into contact with many or all of these irritants every day.

If your baby suffers from pet allergies they may experience runny nose, sneezing, watery eyes, rash or itchy skin all year round. This is one way to eliminate seasonal allergies as the culprit. Seasonal allergies are only present during certain times of the year.

But what is baby is away from home and still shows these symptoms, vacation for example. Well, it’s not so  simple. Even if the baby is not in contact with your pet, she may present with similar symptoms because the allergen is present in her surroundings. Dander can be transported by clothes (jackets, scarves, mittens and hats) or other household items. So even if you and baby are away from your pet for weeks, pet allergens may still be present. With this in mind, the best way to determine if your child is truly has pet allergies is to have allergy testing done by a pediatrician or allergist.

Managing Pet Allergies 

Avoiding pets is the only real remedy for pet allergy. This can be a difficult family decision. But if you choose to find a new home for your pet, make it a point to clean your house with the help of someone who does not have pet allergies. Replace or vacuum thoroughly your carpets, bedding, and upholstered furniture, and use high-efficiency filters.

If you want to keep the pet, then make sure that the pet is bathed regularly by a person who is not allergic. Mark out certain areas or rooms in your house as pet-free zones. Remove carpets and dander-attracting furnishings. Keep your pet outside these areas and ask someone with no pet allergy to clean their kennel or litter. You can take in a pet once your child becomes older, say around eight years. As the age advances, the immune system develops, and your child will produce fewer symptoms when he comes into contact with the pet.

References:

  1. Pyrhönen K, Näyhä S, Läärä E. Dog and cat exposure and respective pet allergy in early childhood. Pediatr Allergy Immunol. 2015 May;26(3):247-55. doi: 10.1111/pai.12369. PMID:25735463.
  2. Sasaki M, Yoshida K, Adachi Y, Furukawa M, Itazawa T, Odajima H, Saito H, Akasawa A. Factors associated with asthma control in children: findings from a national Web-based survey. Pediatr Allergy Immunol. 2014 Dec;25(8):804-9. doi: 10.1111/pai.12316. PMID:25443716.
  3. Brajon D, Valois A, Waton J, Schmutz JL, Barbaud A. [Immunoallergic skin manifestations associated with new pets: three cases]. Ann Dermatol Venereol. 2014 Oct;141(10):588-92. doi: 10.1016/j.annder.2014.06.023. Epub 2014 Aug 6. French. PMID:25288061

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