Pet Allergies

Columbia Asthma & Allergy Clinic

Allergists, Asthma Specialists, & Immunologists located in the Pacific Region

Pet allergies affect an estimated 10 million people in the United States, so it’s important to know that the doctors at Columbia Asthma & Allergy Clinic offer effective treatment options beyond finding a new home for your family pet. To schedule an appointment, use the online booking feature or call one the 13 offices throughout the Pacific Region, including Fremont, Oakland, Redwood City, Sunnyvale, San Mateo, and San Leandro, California; Clackamas and Gresham, Oregon; Bellevue, Fishers Landing, Longview, and Salmon Creek, Washington; and Eagle, Idaho.

Pet Allergies Q & A

What causes pet allergies?

Many people who endure pet allergies believe that the animal’s fur is responsible, but that’s not the case. Pet allergies are caused by proteins found in your pet’s saliva, urine, and dander (dead skin cells).

The proteins are inhaled as tiny particles travel through the air. If your immune system overreacts, it labels them as harmful substances. Every time you encounter the same proteins in the future, the immune system releases chemicals that trigger an allergic reaction.

All cats and dogs carry these proteins, which means you can develop an allergy to short-haired and hairless breeds. You can also develop an allergy to most furry and feathered pets, including birds, hamsters, and horses.

What symptoms develop due to pet allergies?

Pet allergy symptoms usually develop quickly when you’re near the animal. However, ongoing exposure to the pet typically leads to chronic symptoms. Pet allergies cause:

  • Sneezing
  • Runny nose
  • Congested nose
  • Itchy, watery eyes
  • Itchy rash
  • Hives

If you have asthma, a pet allergy can also trigger an asthma attack. Additionally, pet allergies can make eczema flare-up.

How are pet allergies treated?

Medications such as antihistamines may help relieve your symptoms. You can also take steps to reduce pet allergens in your home. For example, using micro-filter vacuum bags and HEPA filters for your HVAC system, frequently washing bedding and clothes, and removing carpeting if possible can all reduce your exposure to allergy-causing proteins.

Patients with severe pet allergies ultimately have two choices: not having a pet or getting immunotherapy. Immunotherapy exposes your body to small doses of pet allergens, allowing your immune system to gradually develop tolerance and stop triggering allergic reactions.

Immunotherapy is often administered as allergy shots or sublingual immunotherapy, in which a tablet or fluid dissolves under your tongue. Both methods are highly effective, but it takes years to achieve optimal results. That means you’ll put up with symptoms for a long time if you want to keep your pet.

You may have an option that provides faster results. The team at Columbia Asthma & Allergy Clinic offers innovative intralymphatic immunotherapy, which produces results in months rather than years at their Fremont, California, location. After evaluating your symptoms and performing allergy testing, your doctor can determine if you’re a good candidate for this type of immunotherapy. 

If you suspect you have pet allergies, call Columbia Asthma & Allergy Clinic or schedule an appointment online.