1200 Valley West Dr. Suite 120, West Des Moines, IA 50266 (515) 226-9559 Referring Providers Contact

Animal & Pet Allergies

Dog and Cat Allergies

The Asthma and Allergy Foundation of America (AAFA) estimates there are 60 million people in the United States who have allergies or asthma. Among the millions of allergy-prone people, 15 to 30 percent react specifically to cats and dogs, according to the AAFA.

People who have dog or cat allergic reactions are actually allergic to their saliva. When an animal grooms itself, it licks its skin and fur, thereby depositing its saliva. The saliva dries, leaving behind the proteins that trigger your allergic reactions, causing symptoms of allergies. These saliva antigens that cause allergic reactions become airborne very easily because they are light-weight. Therefore, they easily spread to clothing, carpeting, and other household items.

While allergy symptoms aren’t usually life threatening, but they can be difficult to deal with. Here’s a sampling of what you might experience:

  • Stuffy or runny nose
  • Red, itchy eyes
  • Coughing and sneezing
  • Shortness of breath or difficulty breathing
  • Rashes and swelling

Dog allergies are usually not as problematic as a cat allergy since dogs are regularly washed and often kept outdoor. The most effective way to cure your pet allergy is to remove allergenic animals from your home – however heartbreaking that may be. Unfortunately, even after removal of these allergy triggers, traces of the antigens will remain in the house. To really rid the house of pet allergens, the carpeting, clothing, furniture, etc. must be cleaned or replaced.

If removing the animal is not an option, allergy medications can be used to treat your symptoms. Another effective treatment is allergy immunotherapy (“allergy shots”) which can be used to reduce a person’s sensitivity to the triggers that are causing their allergy symptoms. Our clinic can perform allergy testing to confirm what is causing your allergy symptoms. This allergy testing will help us determine which allergy treatments would be best for you.

Horses

A horse allergy is an allergic reaction to horse dander and hair. People often mistake an allergy to horses as a typical outdoor allergy, a hay allergy, mold allergy, or seasonal pollen allergy. Treatment for allergy to horses would include horse avoidance, allergy medications, and/or allergy immunotherapy.

Rodents and Rabbits

Patients may have allergic reactions to rabbits and rodents (guinea pigs, rats, and mice) if they are exposed to these animals on a daily basis. Those at highest risk are pet owners, veterinarians, and laboratory technicians. People that live or work in rodent-infested buildings are also at a high risk. The actual cause of the allergic reaction may be the animal’s saliva, fur, or urine. Treatment starts with ridding the home of any rodent pests, or considering removing any rodent or rabbit pets. If these measures are ineffective, allergy meds or allergy shots (immunotherapy) may be an option.