Want a Pet… but Not the Allergies that Come With It?

Roughly one in every 10 Americans has pet allergies. Both cats and dogs cause allergies, but cats are twice as likely to cause them as dogs are.

Pet Allergies

(Pixabay / Amorhunter)

The Source of the Allergy

Many people think that a pet’s fur is the allergy trigger. However, the source of the allergy is the protein found in the pet’s dander (dead skin flakes), urine, and saliva. Hair can make the problem worse, though, because allergenic proteins can get trapped in it.

Some people recommend buying hypoallergenic pets such as a devonrex or Siberian cat or a bichon fries or Chinese-crested dog. These breeds may be less likely to stir up your allergies, but no cat or dog is truly allergy-free.


Pet allergies can result in the following symptoms:

  • Hay fever
  • Skin rash
  • Red, itchy eyes with mucus
  • Respiratory symptoms (coughing, asthma)

Though many individuals develop pet allergies in youth, other people don’t start reacting until adulthood.

Avoiding Pet Allergies

There are a number of measures you can take to minimize your reactions to pets. Try bathing them weekly, using HEPA filters in your home, regularly laundering linens that pets come in contact with, and creating dander-free zones in your home where your pet is not allowed to go.


If you suffer with pet allergies but still want a new pet (or want to keep your current pet), there’s hope. Allergy immunotherapy can help retrain your immune system to ignore pet dander, rather than react to it. Immunotherapy starts with an allergy serum containing traces of allergens, including pet dander. As the body is exposed to those allergens in gradually increasing amounts, it becomes accustomed to them and stops overreacting to them in ways that leads to uncomfortable symptoms.

Allergy immunotherapy is available through allergy shots or sublingual allergy drops for dog and cat allergies. The allergy treatment drops are safer, so they can be administered at home. (Injections are given multiple times per week at the doctor’s office.)

About The Author

Stuart H. Agren, M.D.

Stuart H. Agren, M.D. completed his undergraduate studies at the University of Utah and went on to earn his Doctor of Medicine from Tulane University School of Medicine in 1974. He completed additional training at L.D.S. Hospital in Salt Lake City, Utah and then established his private medical practice starting in 1975. Dr. Agren completed a mini-residency in Industrial Medicine at the Robert Johnson School of Medicine at Rutgers University and also completed training to become a certified Medical Review Officer.

Dr. Agren was the Medical Director at TRW and McDonnell Douglas in Mesa, Arizona and at Stauffer Chemical and Kennecott Copper in Salt Lake City, Utah. He also served as an adjunct faculty member at Arizona State University.

In his private medical practice, Dr. Agren specialized in family practice and allergy. In his work as a private practice allergist, he was one of the first doctors in the country to prescribe sublingual immunotherapy to his patients as an alternative to subcutaneous immunotherapy (allergy shots). He has also been a trailblazer in the field of food allergy treatment and research, developing a program to treat multiple food allergies simultaneously using sublingual immunotherapy. Dr. Agren has been featured on local CBS, NBC, and ABC news affiliates and won the peer-nominated “Top Doc” award from Phoenix Magazine.

After 20 years in private practice, Dr. Agren became the Founder and President of AllergyEasy, which helps primary care physicians around the country offer allergy testing and sublingual immunotherapy treatment to their patients. Over 200 physicians in over 32 states use the AllergyEasy program to help their patients overcome environmental and food allergies and asthma.