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How to spot symptoms of pet allergies

It can be a very challenging situation when a family member, especially a child, seems to be exhibiting signs of pet allergies. It’s important to know how to spot the symptoms, and if there is already a pet living in the house, to take the proper steps to reduce exposure to the allergens. In cases where children with pet allergies want to own a pet, there are some great alternative pet suggestions for allergic families to consider!

little girl sneezing

Allergy signs

The symptoms of pet allergies in children may be as subtle as cold symptoms that never seem to quite clear up, or can be more obvious, and in some cases even extreme. When trying to spot symptoms of a pet allergy the Mayo Clinic says to watch for these telltale signs:

  • Sneezing
  • Runny nose, nasal congestion, post-nasal drip
  • Itchy, watery and/or red eyes
  • Cough
  • Bluish-coloured skin under the eyes
  • Child frequently rubbing upward on the nose

Some children may also exhibit bronchial/asthmatic symptoms such as:

  • Trouble breathing
  • Chest tightness/pain
  • Wheezing

Reduce symptoms

In some children, symptoms of pet allergies may manifest themselves as hives or itchy skin following direct contact with the pet. So, what are some ways to reduce exposure to pet allergens? Avoiding exposure to pets by finding the pet a new home is the best remedy for these allergies. If avoiding exposure to the pet completely isn’t an option, the best way to reduce exposure the allergens are as follows:

  • Have an allergy-free family member or friend bathe the pet weekly
  • Clean the house thoroughly and frequently
  • Keep the pet out of the child’s room and/or in a designated area
  • Remove carpeting, which harbours pet dander, and replace with flooring
  • Use HEPA air purifiers in the house
  • Keep the pet outdoors (if feasible)


An allergy-friendly pet may also be the solution. Some alternative pet suggestions for allergic families are:

  • Fish or reptile pets – have no skin to shed dander
  • Birds – less likely to cause allergic reactions

All dogs and cats shed dander from their skin, but smaller breeds with shorter hair that don’t shed, or that shed less, could be considered for allergy sufferers who do not have asthma or severe symptoms. Hamsters, gerbils, and the like may not be a good alternative pet solution as the litter from their cages can become airborne and cause problems.

Pet allergy, or dust mites?

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