An allergic reaction to a pet is the body’s way of fighting off an intruder. The intruder is an animal’s dander or flakes of skin. When a child with a pet allergy breathes in the animal dander, their body releases histamine and other chemicals to fight off the allergen. The histamine can cause runny nose, watery eyes, sneezing, and coughing. In some children, an animal allergy can also cause a rash or hives.
Your child may have these symptoms, but you’re not sure if it’s due to the family dog or if it’s just a seasonal allergy. How can you tell? Well first of all, a pet allergy will not be seasonal. Your child will have the symptoms year round. Even when your child is away from your home and the pet, she may still show symptoms as the allergen is easily transported on clothing and other items.
Many parents try to remove the animal from the home for a period of time. Unfortunately, this does not work. If the animal has lived in the house, there will be dander on furniture, in carpets and draperies, on bedding, and in the air.
A sure way to find out if your child truly has a pet allergy is to have an allergy test. The test consists of a prick to the skin in which the allergist will apply a liquid containing the suspected allergen. If your child is allergic to that particular allergen, within 15 minutes or so the skin will react.
Treatment for a pet allergy can range from using saline nasal rinse for mild symptoms, to having injections for more severe symptoms.