Patient Information on Pet Allergies
Who is this information for?
This information is for children and adults with a pet allergy.
What is a pet allergy?
An allergen is an irritant that may result in symptoms such as allergic rhinitis (refer to Allergic Rhinitis
patient information sheet).
Pet allergy occurs if an individual develops allergy antibodies to proteins (allergens) from the pet.
The most common allergies are to dogs and cats with the allergen protein being found mainly in the
animals’ saliva or fur.
Patients with asthma may find their asthma is exacerbated as a result of a pet allergy. Symptoms are
usually persistent and present throughout the year.
What treatment options are available to manage pet allergies?
Treatment options available to manage allergic rhinitis include:
- Aeroallergen avoidance/minimisation
- Medications prescribed by your doctor or ENT specialist
- Allergen specific immunotherapy
What are the aeroallergen avoidance strategies to manage pet allergies?
- Keeping pets restricted to certain rooms of the house and not allowing them in the bedrooms
- Limiting soft furnishings where possible and vacuuming carpets, mattresses and upholstery regularly
- Washing your hands after stroking or playing with your pet
- Changing clothes after coming in contact with your pet in severe cases of allergy
- Washing pets once a week
- If an individual has severe allergic tendencies, do not bring the pet into the home
- Do not smoke as exposure to environmental smoke can worsen allergic symptoms and make a number of allergies including pet allergy more likely to develop
What medications are available to manage pet allergies?
- Antihistamines (tablets/nasal spray): are effective in managing histamine-related symptoms such as itching, watery nose/eyes and sneezing. This medication is not helpful for nasal blockage.
- Nasal steroids spray/drops: often used as first line management in children aged over 2 and adults,mainly to treat nasal congestion or blockage.
- Nasal irrigation: washing out the nasal cavity has been shown to reduce the amount of allergens in the nose (refer to Nasal Irrigation patient information sheet).
Is allergen specific immunotherapy available for pet allergies?
Allergen specific immunotherapy is available to manage pet allergies in very severe cases. It involves
exposure to a small amount of the allergen in order to induce tolerance. Specific immunotherapy is the
only treatment that modifies the immune response to allergens rather than just treating the symptoms.
A typical treatment may require monthly injections over 3-5 years or giving the allergen sublingually
(under the tongue) on a daily basis for 2-3 years. Immunotherapy is usually considered in older children
and adults when symptoms are not well controlled with other measures.
Concerns or questions?
You can contact your ENT Specialist at the Melbourne ENT Group (MEG):
Your GP is also the best contact for ongoing care and concerns.