Lockdown pets: Will a new furry friend affect your allergies?

Pet allergy

Lockdown pets: Will a new furry friend affect your allergies?

Life around the world has transformed in the face of a global pandemic, and perhaps the most apparent difference is that we’re all home far more often now. On paper, this seems like the perfect time to finally adopt that pet you’ve been wanting for so long. However, it may not be as simple as it seems. You now have the time to care for an animal, but what if it turns out you’re allergic?

A survey of British pet owners showed that 44% didn’t know they had an allergy until they had already bought their pet home. And 1 in 10 dog or cat owners have an allergy to their pet. So how can you know before you buy a new pet?

What does a pet allergy look like?

Symptoms of a pet allergy often appear similar to hay fever, likely because conditions like hay fever and asthma make you more likely to have a pet allergy. The most common symptoms will be:

  • Runny nose 
  • Itchy or watery eyes
  • Difficulty breathing or wheezing
  • A rash or hives

For many people, these symptoms, while uncomfortable, are not life threatening. Many pet owners continue to live happily alongside their furry companion. But studies also show that having a pet may, over time, make your allergies worse, and so it’s not a risk-free commitment.

What causes a pet allergy?

Allergies to dogs and cats are caused by the dander in their fur, their saliva, and their urine, so even if you buy a hairless cat, you could still suffer. While the best way to avoid experiencing allergies is to not have a pet, this isn’t the ideal choice for some animal lovers.

A common misconception around pet allergies is that some breeds are hypoallergenic and are safe alternatives for those with allergies. Hypoallergenic dogs and cats don’t technically exist, it’s more that some might shed less and cause fewer reactions. and 40% of owners who purchased hypoallergenic pets to tackle allergies reported continuing symptoms. 

Getting a pet is a big commitment – they quickly become part of the family. The last thing you want is to bring this companion into your life, only to have to re-home it because of unexpected allergies. If you still want to get a new pet in lockdown but don’t know if you have allergies, then get in touch with an allergy specialist who can help you make an informed choice.

Before taking on the responsibility of a new pet, contact us at the London Allergy and Immunology Centre and book an allergy test by calling us on 02031 433 449.

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