People love their pets and allergists do their best to help the allergic patient hold on to them. Dr. Stadtmauer is both allergic and a cat owner so he gets it. Pet ownership reduces stress and that must be kept in mind when managing the allergic patient. Giving up a pet might help allergy symptoms but for the overall welfare to the patient and the pet, it’s best to do everything to help someone manage their symptoms. In this practice, giving up the pet is the last resort.
The allergic proteins come off of our hairy, furry or feathered friends’ skin, saliva and urine. And the allergens go everywhere, dispersed into the air as well as on every fabric in the home and even the walls. Long after the pet is gone the allergen may linger for many months.
Allergies can develop over time with repeated exposures, so even if a person did not react when the pet first came into the house, there’s no telling what may happen later. Scientists at Johns Hopkins have found that exposure to pets increases the risk of asthma-like symptoms in older children.
On the other hand, sometimes repeated low-grade contact with pet allergens results, happily, in desensitization, just as can happen after years of allergy shots. There is no such thing as a dog or cat that does not cause allergies, although some breeds stir up more problems than others. All dogs and cats shed, but those with double coats — like springer spaniels, collies, German shepherds and Samoyeds — shed more than others.
Some birds, too, cause more problems than others, especially the “powder down” ones — cockatiels, cockatoos, African grays and pigeons —that produce large amounts of white powdery dust every day.