So you’ve had a pet for years now, and you’ve never felt any discomfort after cuddling with it. However, adult-onset allergies and asthma can develop at any stage of your life, when your immune system mistakenly identifies a substance as harmful.
As asthma can be life-threatening, read on to find out what are some of the symptoms you should look out for and what precautions you can take to ensure that you can your beloved pet can continue living together!
How does my pet trigger an asthma reaction?
An asthmatic trigger can be defined as anything that provokes the airways in your body and causes your asthma symptoms to appear, or existing symptoms to worsen.
When it comes to pets, allergens that trigger your asthma symptoms can be found in their saliva, skin flakes, urine, and fine particles from bird feathers. Sometimes, you might even be allergic to the ingredients of the food it eats or the material of the toys it plays with.
If you are sensitive to these allergens, touching and breathing them can cause your immune system to release a chemical called histamine that then causes an allergic reaction.
If your dog or cat is triggering your asthma, tell-tale signs can surface immediately or a few days after your initial contact with it. Common symptoms to look out for include red, watery, and itchy eyes and nose, a sore throat, itchy skin, sneezing, coughing, tightening of the chest, or worse, breathing difficulties.
Depending on the extent of your allergy, the amount of time taken for these symptoms to appear will vary between individuals. If you are only slightly allergic, your symptoms might surface days after your interaction with an animal. However, if you are highly allergic, you might have breathing problems almost immediately after you come into contact with your furry friend.
However, being allergic to your pet does not mean that you cannot have a pet anymore. Precautions to reduce the number of allergens you come in contact with exist, and these include:
- Investing in a High-efficiency particulate-arresting (HEPA) filter to reduce the amount of animal skin dander in the air
- Bath your pet once a week
- Keep your bedroom a pet-free zone
- Remove carpets, upholstered furniture, and curtains that are hard to wash regularly; Make sure your furniture and floors are easy to clean to regularly remove allergens
- Consult your doctor for allergy medication.
To be on the safe side, consider getting an allergy skin prick test done at a clinic and consult your GP if it is advisable to live with your dog or cat. Allergy-induced asthma is ultimately a serious condition, and you should never compromise your health. If it turns out that you have a severe allergy, it is best to consider alternative living arrangements for you and your pet.