Kids and pet allergies
Get the details and find out how you can reduce symptoms.
How common are pet allergies? An estimated 15 percent of Americans are allergic to pets. Adults with pet allergies are more likely to have children who are allergic to dogs or cats. But even if neither parent has a pet allergy, a child can still become allergic to pets.
Can pet allergies be prevented?
There’s no definitive way to prevent a child from developing a pet allergy—but some research has shown that children exposed to pets during the first 12 months of life are less likely to become allergic to pets.
What are the signs of an allergic reaction?
A child who is allergic to pets and comes into contact with one will have a reaction within 30 minutes to 12 hours. Some kids have more mild reactions—look for symptoms like a runny nose, sneezing or watering eyes. Other kids can have more severe allergic reactions, developing hives, rashes or asthma.
How can I be sure the reaction is a pet allergy?
You can help determine what your child is allergic to by visiting an allergist. The allergist will examine your child and his medical history and then measure his reaction to specific allergens through a simple skin or blood test.
What does having a pet allergy mean for my child?
Work with your allergist to determine how to manage your child’s pet allergy. A severe allergy may require that you make sure your home and the home of your child’s caregiver are pet-free. It may also mean that your child should avoid pets outside of the home, too. For kids with severe allergies, briefly touching a pet or coming into contact with their saliva—either from the pet or through pet toys—can trigger a reaction.
If your child has a milder allergy, discuss the option of having a pet in your home with your allergist. Consider dog and cat breeds that aren’t prone to shedding. Then, take the following precautions: Vacuum and dust frequently and be sure to keep the pet out of your child's bedroom and off the furniture.