Categorized | Health, Toddler Sickness

Understanding Pet Allergies In Children

Allergies in children are widespread. In fact, it is one of the most common childhood diseases. Household pets are considered a common source of allergies in children. Here is a guide to help parents become more informed of the causes, symptoms, treatment and prevention of pet allergies in children.

What causes pet allergies in children?

Pet allergies in children are an immune reaction to the pet’s dander – a gooey substance made up of saliva and very small skin flakes. Toddlers may also be allergic to the animal’s saliva, urine or feces. According to the Asthma and Allergy Foundation of America, heredity can also make an individual more susceptible to allergies. If one or both the parents of a toddler have allergies, then there is a big probability that the toddler will also be allergic to something.

What are the signs and symptoms?

It is very important for parents of young children who have pets at home to be aware of the potential symptoms of an allergy to a pet. Here are the indicators that a toddler is allergic to an animal:

•    Stuffy nose
•    Itchy, red or watery eyes
•    Sneezing
•    Coughing
•    Wheezing
•    Rashes, hives and the development of a full-blown asthma (for severe cases of pet allergy)

Symptoms of pet allergy may even transpire even when a toddler is not in close proximity with the animal since the allergen can be found all over the indoor environment. Hence, it will take some work to figure out whether it is your pet or something else that is causing the problem.

Diagnosing The Problem

If you are not sure your household pet is causing the problem, you may want to take your little one to an allergist to help identify the source of irritant. An allergist will perform a thorough evaluation of your toddler’s medical record and complete a physical examination. A skin or blood test is also good for assessing your toddler’s level of immunoglobulin E (IgE) antibodies as it relates to particular allergens. Skin testing is better as it delivers quicker and more precise results than blood tests. After 15 to 20 minutes, the allergist searches for bumps or marks like small mosquito bites that show an allergy.

Treating Pet Allergies In Children

Unfortunately, there is no specific cure for pet allergies in children. But, there are some things you can do to minimize the symptoms. Removing the pet from your home is the most common solution. Your allergy doctor may recommend a saline nasal rinse that contains antihistamine if it is a mild respiratory infection. Allergy shots can also be used if the symptoms persist even after getting rid of the pet and taking medications. Allergy shots can help reduce the symptoms and desensitize the immune system.

Preventing Pet Allergies In Children

Minimize Contact

You might have to give your pet up if your toddler is suffering from pet allergy. But if this is not possible, you can keep your pet outdoors. Make sure your pet does not come into your toddler’s bedroom. Another idea is to find a pet that is more allergy-friendly such as a fish, turtle or cats and dogs that shed less frequently to minimize pet dander.

Change Your Toddler’s Clothes

Change your toddler’s clothes after he plays with your pet. Wash his hands immediately. Make sure he takes a bath every night before going to bed so as to keep allergens from tracking into his room.

Install A Filtration System

Install a filtration system around your house to remove the pet allergens circulating in the air. Get one with a MERV rating of 12 in the heater and air-conditioning unit. See to it you change the filter every 3 months to keep the air in your home clean throughout the year. In addition, it is also a good idea to leave the fan on to create a whole-house air filter to remove the particles that may trigger pet allergy.

Clean Your Home Regularly

Another way to prevent pet allergies in children is to clean your house frequently. Invest in a vacuum cleaner with advanced filtration system to remove dander as well as dust mites, molds and other allergens in the air. Dust appliances and furnitures. Remove your carpets as they can trap pet dander and replace them with smooth flooring such as vinyl, linoleum or hardwood.

Pet allergies in children are very common and it can make a toddler’s life difficult. But, with the help of this information, parents now know how to manage them and make life easier for their toddler and the entire family.

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