IT’S common to hear about people with cat or dog allergies, but the opposite could also be true and that our furry friends can be allergic to us humans. Is this true?
Contrary to popular belief, it is not animal fur that triggers pet allergies in humans, but rather dander – flakes of skin shed by animals that have hair, fur or feathers.
Conversely, humans can also produce dander (most commonly in the form of dandruff), which other animals can in turn be allergic to. Interestingly, cats and dogs can even be allergic to each other’s dander!
However, it is fairly rare for animals to be allergic to human dander. According to Popular Science magazine, this is because humans bathe more frequently, and thus shed less dander. More commonly observed in animals are environmental allergies, including to dust, mold, pollen and even fleas. Some animals may also exhibit food allergies.
If you are convinced that your pet is exhibiting an allergic response to you in particular, consider that it may be a chemical allergy; animals’ noses are much more sensitive than their human counterparts.
As such, the chemicals in the products we use can trigger adverse reactions in our furry friends. This is especially true for highly-fragranced products such as shampoos, perfumes, detergent and other household cleaning products.
National Geographic writes that allergies in cats and dogs most often manifest skin inflammation and itching, which may lead to hair loss. Other symptoms include sneezing, watery eyes, gastrointestinal problems and feline/canine acne.
Unfortunately, these symptoms are rather generic and on their own cannot confirm whether or not your pet has an allergy. The only way to do so is to take your pet for an allergy test. This is done by placing a small amount of allergen under the animal’s skin to check for reactions, much like in the human version of the test.
Don’t panic about having to say goodbye to Fido either! If your pet does turn out to be allergic, be it to you or to something else in their environment, there exist allergy shots and other allergy medications for animals.