Helping pet parents and pet allergy sufferers coexist
My brother came over last weekend and right away he started complaining that my cats were causing him to cough, and scratch his skin. For some reason this past year he developed an allergy to my cats and this has made planning family functions quite difficult. Even a simple cup of coffee and a chat now is not possible unless we meet at the local Starbucks.
At first I took it personally; I knew that my brother wasn’t a big fan of cats and I somehow felt that he was hatching some sort of plan to get me to see how much trouble my cats were. After he came over the last time however, I had no doubt that the rash I was seeing was real and he even began having a runny nose and other clear allergy symptoms. Sure, I know that some people have pet allergies but why did it have to be my own brother? As I sat there feeling bad I started wondering, can pets can be allergic to people? After thinking about it for a while, I decided to put my experiences and thoughts on paper so hopefully I can rid myself of resentments and maybe even help another person who may be facing a similar problem.
Here are some basic ground rules for pet owners and their house guests:
For pet owners
- Be aware that some people don’t like animals and respect that. This can manifest in a variety of ways and everyone has a right to like or not like whatever they so choose. We never want to impose our love for animals on others.
- It’s never a bad idea to keep some diphenhydramine or some loratadine in the medicine cabinet. I have had several people ask me after they spend a few hours at my home if I had some Claritin, and the first few times I had to run out to the pharmacy to get it for them during dinner or an important sporting event. Many people who have allergies know how to use and have used these antihistamines but for some reason don’t carry any with them.
- Keep the home as fur- and dust-free as possible when guests are arriving, especially if we already know they have sensitivities or allergies.
- Don’t develop hard feelings if a friend or a family member would prefer to meet outside your home. Depending on their severity, allergies can be mildly bothersome on the one end and potentially life threatening on the other more serious end.
For guests of pet owners
- We’re not aware of your allergies unless you tell us. Most people are understanding enough to do all they can to help but they must know about the problem first.
- If you’re allergic to our pets or simply don’t like our pets, please respect the fact that we love our animals. Don’t ask us to “lock them up” or keep asking “how can you live with so many animals?” I’ve heard such a variety of things from people trying to tell me that they can’t stand my pets and that really is quite bothersome. Some people love animals, some don’t, it’s that simple. As we’ve all heard before, our differences are what makes this world worth living in.
- And last but not least, if you bring your six-year-old child with you (the one who has never heard of the word “NO” since he was born), please don’t sit there taking a picture while he chases after my cat with a sharpened pencil.
As always, it is best to be tolerant of each other’s differences and be respectful of each other’s health needs. Now since I’m a pharmacist and I don’t like writing a blog without giving any medication suggestions I will say this: allergies in humans and in pets are generally caused by the release of histamine. The medications used to ameliorate the symptoms of allergies are called antihistamines. The most common of these antihistamines is called Benadryl (diphenhydramine). This medication has been around for ages and is still commonly used to stop or decrease the symptoms of allergies in both humans and pets.
If you have any pet medication related questions, please feel free to call your 1800PetMeds pharmacist who is always willing to help answer those for you. You can also call and make an appointment with your veterinarian who can answer your questions and give your pet an exam. Developing a relationship with your veterinarian is the best thing you can do to improve the health of your pet. If you are the one suffering from allergies, your pharmacist can answer your medication related questions or call and make an appointment with your doctor for possible allergy testing or for prescribing medication to help you. Some allergies can progress to the point of being dangerous, so please take them seriously and call your doctor.
This topic is extremely vast and I would actually like to write more about allergies and their treatment in the future. Hopefully I can discuss the medications that are used, the reasons for their use and possible side effects so stay tuned and until then, be safe, keep your pets safe, and be nice to each other. I will try and do the same.