The Pet Allergy Curse

A friend of ours is highly allergic to pets. In fact, just having us near him sometimes enough to triger his allergies since the alergens are in our clothes. Unfortunately, having allergies to pets is a common problem.

Studies show that approximately 15 percent of the population is allergic to dogs or cats. An estimated one-third of Americans who are allergic to cats (about two million people) live with at least one cat in their household anyway. In a study of 341 adults who were allergic to cats or dogs and had been advised by their physicians to give up their pets, only one out of five did. What's more, 122 of them obtained another pet after a previous one had died.

It's clear the benefits of pet companionship outweigh the drawbacks of pet allergies for many owners. Living comfortably with a companion animal despite being allergic to him requires a good understanding of the allergic condition.

The main source of irritation for allergy sufferers are glands in the animal's skin which secrete allergy-triggering proteins, called allergens, that linger in the animal's fur but also float easily in the air. Allergens are present in the animal's saliva and urine, too, and may become airborne when saliva dries on the fur. The severity of reaction to these allergens varies from one person to the next, ranging from mild sniffling and sneezing to life-threatening asthma, and can be complicated by simultaneous allergies to other irritants in the environment.

Since every person reacts differently to the allergens, there is no one thing that will help allergy sufferers. For some people, a simple allergy pill will help, while for others, having an air purifier to keep the home free is enough. A non-pet room in the house, usually a bed-room, could also help, but since the allergens tend to be in the air and can get in the air ducts, having an air purifier is this room will also be beneficial.

And of course, with any medical issues, seeking the care of a health care professional is a safe course of action. For people who don't have pets, it is beneficial to get an allergy test before getting attached to a furry new friend.