4 Myths About Animal Allergies

There are a lot of misconceptions about allergies in general, largely because many people don't know what causes allergies and what the difference is between an allergy or an intolerance. Some people can even get allergies confused with other illnesses, or they believe that allergies aren't something to take seriously because they are so common.

One area that is often misunderstood is pet allergies. Here are some common myths about animal allergies that people should not believe. 

1. All pets cause allergic symptoms.

It's easy to assume that someone who is allergic to cats will also be allergic to dogs, horses, or other furry friends, but that's not true. Pet allergies are caused by an immune system to reaction to certain proteins, and these vary depending on the animal. So, a person with a dog allergy may be perfectly fine around other animals. 

2. Pet allergies can be "cured" with exposure or medication.

People can take medication to help with allergy symptoms, but there is no medication that will actually make allergies go away entirely. You can get shots to reduce the severity of a reaction for months at a time, providing a "cure" for the time being, but ongoing allergy treatment is necessary for allergies to stay at bay. 

Another common misconception is that people will be cured from a pet allergy if they are simply around the animals more often. Unfortunately, increased exposure does not mean that a person will eventually get over an allergy. Sometimes, exposure can make reactions worse over time. Parents should not force children with animal allergies to handle and hold pets that trigger reactions in hopes of making this problem go away.

3. Hairier pets cause worse reactions.

People mistakenly believe that it is pet fur that causes reactions in people, but that is not the case. Dander, saliva, mucus, and even secreted oils have the proteins that trigger immune response. Short haired cats, therefore, can be just as harmful as long haired cats. 

4. No pet is truly hypoallergenic.

Some breeds of dogs and cats are said to be hypoallergenic because they do not shed. Golden doodles, for example, are popular because they combine the looks of a golden retriever with the non-shedding of a poodle. However, any pet can cause a reaction, and hypoallergenic pets may not be as triggering, but people with allergies may still not be able to tolerate exposure to them. Always test an animal before bringing it home if someone in your house has an allergy.