If you have a pet allergy, your immune system is reacting abnormally to harmful allergens. These allergens come from the proteins in a pet’s dander, urine, or saliva, not their fur. However, a pet’s fur can bring outdoor allergens like mold spores and pollen indoors. Cats cause more allergic reactions than dogs or other furry animals because they have more allergens in their saliva and on their bodies. Fish, amphibians, and other non-furry pets rarely cause allergies. This can make them ideal pets for young children with allergies.

Common pet allergies. Although pet allergies are common, you’re more likely to have one if a close family member has allergies or asthma. Studies show that living in a household with a pet in the first year of life helps build resistance to pet allergies. Pet allergy symptoms are similar to those of a cold or hay fever and include nasal congestion itchy, watery eyes, coughing from post nasal drip, and sinus pressure. Some people may also experience wheezing and difficulty breathing similar to asthma sufferers. Others may experience skin symptoms or allergic dermatitis. Direct contact with the pet will cause red, raised patches and itchy skin.