Why get tested for animal hair allergies?
Dogs and cats are the most common pets. Our four-legged friends live together with humans in many households around the world. There’s a downside to this: allergies to pet hair are also very common.
If you want to get a pet, it is therefore worth checking whether you are allergic to pet hair. If you already have a cat or dog, allergies can reappear and cause discomfort. Even in this case, it is a good idea to get to the bottom of the allergy symptoms and be able to do something about them.
Untreated allergies that cause recurrent symptoms can increase the risk of allergic asthma.
How does the Animal Hair Allergy Test work?
For the Animal Hair Allergy Test, take a small sample of blood from your fingertip with a lancet. The sample is sent to our specialised laboratory on the dried blood spot card provided in the test kit. The laboratory analyses your blood to determine the number of IgE antibodies that the immune system releases against dog dander and cat epithelium.
What do the pet hair allergy test results tell you?
The Pet Hair Allergy Test results report indicates whether and to what extent you are sensitised to dog and cat dander.
If you are sensitised to pet dander, your immune system reacts to certain allergens by releasing more IgE antibodies. This does not automatically mean that you have an allergy. If additional symptoms appear when you encounter dogs or cats, you can assume that you have an allergy to animal hair.
What recommendations will you receive after the pet hair allergy test?
If you do have an allergy, allergists generally recommend leaving your pet in good hands or not adopting one into your family if you are allergic.
Unfortunately, people who are allergic to cats usually react to all cats. You may have better luck with dogs: reactions often differ from one dog breed to another, and even from one animal to another. Some dog breeds are specially bred to shed very little hair and are less likely to cause allergic reactions. However, even with these hypoallergenic dogs, there is no guarantee that you won’t experience an allergic reaction.
The results report will give you advice on how to deal with an allergy to pet hair if you do not want to part with your pet or if you have to deal with cats or dogs regularly for other reasons. This mainly involves preventing pet dander from entering your bedroom and taking specific hygiene measures.
What happens if you have an animal hair allergy?
If you suffer from an allergy, your body triggers an immune reaction when it encounters certain substances that are in fact harmless.
Strictly speaking, an allergy to animal hair is not an allergy to the hair of the animal itself. In dogs, you react to the dog’s dander. In cats, you react to the epithelium, the proteins in the saliva and the dander. In both cases, allergens attach themselves to the hair and are dispersed along with it.
What are pet allergy symptoms?
Allergies to dogs and cats generally trigger the same symptoms. Allergy to pet hair is considered a respiratory allergy. Symptoms usually appear immediately or shortly after inhaling pet hair or getting it on the skin.
Typical symptoms of animal hair allergy are:
- itchiness, papules and redness on the skin (hives)
- red, itchy and watery eyes
- rhinitis, coughing and an itchy throat
In the long term, an allergy to animal dander can develop into allergic asthma – the risk is higher if you encounter the allergens often.
How can I treat cat and dog allergy symptoms?
For temporary encounters with cats or dogs, you can take medication – antihistamines can suppress allergic reactions.
The only way to really treat an allergy is through hyposensitisation – also called specific immunotherapy. Doctors administer the allergen repeatedly over a period of two to three years. If the treatment is successful, your immune system becomes accustomed to the cat or dog dander, and you will no longer experience many allergic symptoms.
For whom is the Pet Hair Allergy Test not appropriate?
The blood test is not or only partially suitable for certain groups of people:
- People with infectious diseases such as hepatitis and HIV should not perform the blood test.
- Pregnant and breastfeeding women should only perform the Animal Hair Allergy Test under medical supervision. Reference values and recommendations do not apply. You should therefore obtain recommendations on the test result from your doctor.
- The test is not suitable for children under the age of 18.
It is not intended to diagnose illness. If, for example, you suffer from severe pain, consult a doctor."