When most of us think about being allergic to any animal, we may assume it to be just an intolerance of fur in general. So if one is allergic to cats, they may expect to also be allergic to dogs if they don’t know any better. However, those who are aware of the nuances of allergies know that it’s definitely possible to have allergy reactions to specifically cats, but not dogs.
In fact, studies and statistics have shown that cat allergies can be up to twice as common as dog allergies. Since almost half of the households in the United States have a dog for a pet, and a third have cats, we need to figure out more about this issue.
An allergy occurs when the immune system is compromised due to the invasion of a certain foreign element. This could be something in our food, such as peanuts or strawberries. This could also be something that we ingest due to being around animals. The main culprit in these elements is usually their proteins. Even if they’re harmless in themselves, the immune system looks upon them as enemies.
Pet allergies are usually brought about by the fur on certain animals. We’ve all seen how cats and dogs shed their fur on carpets, sofas, and anywhere else in the house! The problem is aggravated by long-haired animals, but the main player is again certain proteins:
1. Fel d 1
For cats, the most common allergen protein is called Fel d 1. This is found in the saliva of the cat as well as the sebaceous glands. This means that their whole skin is covered with this protein. Remember, cats lick themselves to get clean! From the skin and the tongue, the protein becomes a coating for the fur as well. The same protein is also contained in their urine. Hence, those with cat allergies have to be careful around even hairless and seemingly hypoallergenic cats, since it’s not just the fur that poses an issue.
Albumin is another protein that cats produce. However, this is a fairly common protein that is also found in substances like blood, eggs, etc. It’s therefore not common for people to be allergic to cats because of this protein.
3. Can f 1
The protein that dogs produce is called Can f 1. It is this that usually gives rise to allergic reactions. This protein is mainly found in their saliva and not their skin, glands, or even the fur. Since a dog doesn’t usually lick himself, the saliva wouldn’t be coating the hairs on his body. However, this sort of licking can occur, which means that the fur would also be harmful to people with dog allergies.
When any of these proteins enter the system of a person with allergies, their bodies go into defense mode. Antibodies are created for the express purpose of dealing with the protein, which results in uncomfortable consequences, such as hives, throat swelling, rashes, itches sneezing, and other flu-like symptoms.
In some cases, the main symptom of an allergy is inflammation. This may mean the formation of eczema on any part of the body. It also means a possibility of fluid collecting in the ear, asthma, and several other dangers.
If you suspect that you’re suffering from cat or dog allergies, your symptoms would be a good guide. If they fade away when the offending animals or its hair, skin, excrements, etc, are not present, an allergy is highly possible.
However, it’s always best to go to a certified allergist and get a prick test or blood test done. This would determine for sure whether you’re allergic to animals like cats or dogs. You may then find out just how much you’re allergic to them, or if you’re allergic to one more than the other. Those who have allergy symptoms to both cats and dogs may find themselves more allergic to a cat since felines have a tendency to lick themselves all over.
There are several ways in which one can deal with cat and dog allergies. The most obvious and effective preventative method is to avoid them completely. However, this is not always possible in public or even private places. Below is a list of some home remedies that may come in handy:
- Taking antihistamines
- Flushing sinuses with saline water to relieve congestion
- Keeping the house and pets as clean as possible
- Using butterbur as a natural alternative to OTC medication
- Diffusing essential oils such as lemon, lavender, and peppermint
- Drinking apple cider vinegar diluted with water and honey
- Consuming foods that are rich in probiotics, such as kefir, etc
- Drinking stinging nettle leaf tea or consuming it in capsule form.