Is it possible to protect children from pet allergies by raising them in a pet-friendly home?

Being exposed to pets at an early age may have an impact on your risk of animal allergies. Some studies have shown that children who have been exposed to pets during infancy and specifically under the same roof, tend to have a lower risk of developing pet allergies. Other factors do have to be taken into consideration in the studies, such as the fact that families with members that already have pet allergies don’t have pets and therefore not many children with predisposition towards pet allergies have been taken into account.

Most parents would think that getting a new pet is the last thing to do when you expect a baby in the family. However, it could prove to be your child’s best defense against allergies.

child with dog

It may sound odd, but having a family pet may help keep your children from developing pet allergies.

Allergic reactions in some people  are caused by the proteins animals shed in dander, and to a lesser extent the proteins in their saliva. Research suggests that children who are exposed to animals before age 1 are less likely to encounter pet allergies later.


What can you do if your child is already allergic?

Of course, the best thing to do is to remove the pet from your home. However, since many people, justifiably, are reluctant to let pets go, second-best measures include restricting the pet from the child’s bedroom, using air cleaners with HEPA filtration, and washing the dog or cat as  frequently as possible.

The usual treatment may include medications to control nasal, eye and chest symptoms. Your doctor may recommend immunotherapy if symptoms are not adequately controlled by using other methods and alternative medicine.


Symptoms of allergies

  • In case of mild reactions, the symptoms affect a specific area of the body, such as a rash or hives, itchiness, watery or red eyes, hay fever, and runny nose. Mild reactions do not spread to other parts of the body and are not hard to manage.
  • Moderate reactions include symptoms that spread to other parts of the body. Symptoms may include itchiness, hives, swelling and breathing difficulties.
  • Anaphylaxis internal audit: A severe allergic reaction. It is a rare, life-threatening emergency in which the body’s response is sudden and affects the whole body. Anaphylaxis may begin with severe itching of the eyes or face and usually develops instantly into more serious symptoms. These symptoms include throat swelling which could result in difficulty swallowing and breathing, abdominal pain, cramps, vomiting, diarrhea, hives, and swelling. Often, mental confusion or dizziness occurs, since there may be a drop in blood pressure with anaphylaxis.

Whenever you think that you or your child has allergies to a pet, don’t wait to see if your symptoms will disappear. When your symptoms last longer than a week or two and tend to recur, make an appointment with an allergy or immunology specialist to have your allergy properly treated.

Allergic pet owners often use their own strategies to control and prevent symptoms of allergy both for themselves and their children, it is important to emphasize that allergies can get worst over time and therefore it is crucial to consult with a specialist early on.

If you are allergic to your pet remember that although separation is usually painful neither you or your pet will enjoy an environment in which you cant co-exist happily.