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Nathalie Sari - Tiertraining & Verhaltensberatung

This article was written by TOBALIE in cooperation with Nathalie Sari - Tiertraining & Verhaltensberatung

Cuddling with your own pet was on the daily program, but suddenly you are confronted with the following situation: Your nose itches, your eyes burn, you get breathing problems when you seek the proximity of your pet? You may have developed an allergy to animal hair, which is bad news for dog and cat owners. What are your options if someone in your household, or even yourself, becomes allergic to dogs or cats from one day to the next? 

Dog or cat allergy: good to know

  • In general, an allergy is a pathological defense reaction of the immune system to certain (usually harmless) substances. In this case, in the case of an animal allergy, to substances (proteins) emanating from an animal, such as dander and body secretions.
  • A common synonym for animal allergy is animal hair allergy, because the allergens adhere to the animal hair and are spread that way. So basically, you are not allergic to the fur per se, but to the particles that stick to the hair. 
  • Pets are the cause of about 20% of all allergies in humans. It is interesting to note that allergic reactions are more common to cats than to dogs, for example. But owners of rodents, horses and birds can also be affected. The reason for an increased allergy to cats is that cat hair spreads particularly easily in the air. In addition, cats are very clean and groom themselves a lot. As a result, more cat saliva adheres to the hair. 
  • In order to trigger an allergic reaction, direct physical contact with the animal is not necessary. It can be enough if you meet with a person who has cat hair stuck to their clothes, or if you are in a room where animals have been present.
  • Allergic reactions to animals or similar usually appear immediately after contact with the allergen in question and become more severe the longer the contact lasts. 
  • Allergy sufferers also do not react to all cats, dogs, etc. to the same extent. Often the breed, age and even the sex of the animal is involved in the strength of the defensive reaction.
  • Dog or cat allergies can also develop in the course of a lifetime, intensify or even disappear completely. In most cases, this has to do with changes in the body’s immune processes. 

Symptoms of a dog or cat allergy

If you develop one or more of the symptoms listed below and suspect that an animal could be the trigger, a visit to a doctor makes sense. A skin test, called a prick test, and/or a blood test can diagnose a possible animal allergy.

  • Symptoms of the nose: Sneezing, runny nose, swollen nasal mucosa, stuffy nose.
  • Upper respiratory symptoms: Shortness of breath in severe cases, coughing fits, coughing irritation, scratchy throat. 
  • Eye symptoms: Conjunctivitis, itching, burning, watering, red eyes, wheals on the eyelids.
  • Skin symptoms: Reddened, swollen and itchy areas, mostly the areas that have had contact with the allergen.  
  • General symptoms: Fatigue, difficulty concentrating, general malaise, feeling weak, anaphylactic shock. 

Only option to hand over the animal?

Imagine that you or someone living with you in the same household suddenly develops an allergy to an animal living in the same household. A nightmare comes true. The first logical conclusion is to have to part with the beloved animal from now on. 

But the good news is, giving up the animal is not necessary in most cases:

  • In the meantime, there are medications, antihistamines and cortisone preparations, which can be prescribed in case of a diagnosis. Since these medications only eliminate the symptoms and not the cause, immunization therapy (hyposensitization) is recommended. This “teaches” the immune system to no longer perceive the allergen as an enemy and thus not to react to it.
  • Alternative treatments such as TCM, homeopathy, bioresonance, etc. can also help. Likewise, strengthening the immune system and the intestines is also part of it.
  • Furthermore, smoking is an amplifier of allergies, so you should avoid it. 
  • Stress is also an amplifier of many allergies. Try to relax in between and consciously take your time. 
  • In very mild cases, regular, intensive hygiene in the household and a few small changes in habits can help: Daily vacuuming and wiping the floors, upholstered furniture, etc., generally avoid carpets and co, airing several times and washing hands, clothing with a roller to remove hair, do not let your pet in the bedroom, avoid intense physical contact, fur care and cleaning the litter box should, if possible, be done by another person. 
  • Grooming: Your pet should be brushed more often to remove loose hair and keep it from flying around. Also, make sure the pet has a healthy diet and avoid stress to reduce shedding.
  • Castrate a male cat may cause the cat to produce fewer allergens, talk to your veterinarian about this.
  • If you have a diagnosed dog or cat allergy but are still considering adopting an animal, there are, for example, “allergy-friendly” breeds of dogs and cats. But beware the word quickly deceives. Because allergic reactions can also occur with these animals. You reacts to each animal individually, an immune reaction cannot be 100% ruled out. Animals that have less hair are usually more suitable, but if you don’t have an animal yet spend at least a few hours with your new roommate first and observe your reaction. Also, your allergy may worsen if you live with an animal permanently. So this decision needs to be well thought out!


Living with a dog or cat- hairallergy can become a major hurdle, especially if you suddenly develop severe symptoms against your beloved pet. While to part with the pet is not inevitable in some cases, fortunately there are alternative options.