Maybe you have a dog or a cat or a more unusual pet like a parrot. Or maybe you’re thinking about making your home happier with a pet. Either way, it’s good to know that certain pets can cause eye allergies.

Today, we take a closer look at pet allergies and the eyes to better understand when and why they occur. We also look at ways you can safeguard your eyes and vision from pet allergies without giving up on the joy of owning a pet.

Let’s get started.

What Are Pet Allergies?

Pet allergies occur when allergens, which are proteins that your pet produces, make your immune system overreact. In themselves, pet allergens are often harmless, but your body may still react to them as if they were bacteria.

Some people are sensitive to allergens from one animal, others to allergens from multiple animals. If you are sensitive to any pet allergen, your body will create the antibody immunoglobulin E (IgE).

This antibody will find the allergens in your body and transport them to the mast cell for removal. The mast cell releases the chemical histamine, which acts as a bouncer that helps your body get rid of the allergen. It’s this chemical that triggers allergy symptoms.

Common triggers of allergic eye disease include pet dander from your pet’s skin, hair, or feathers. Pet skin, fur, spit, or pee may also cause allergies.

small white dog with brown ears lying with head over bedsheet in light from outside

Dogs and eye allergies are common. The most common dog allergen is produced in the salivary gland and deposited on the fur through saliva when the dog licks itself. The fur then dries, and the particles flake off into the air. There are no hypoallergenic dogs – that’s only a myth. But some dogs produce fewer allergens than others.

Pet allergies can occur anytime between a few minutes and a few days after encountering a pet. Pet allergies often run in families. You can get tested for allergies using the skin prick or blood IgE tests.

Up to 20% of the world’s population suffers from cat and dog allergies. Other pets with fur, like hamsters, guinea pigs, or horses can cause allergies, as can animals with feathers. In case you’re looking for a more unusual pet, reptiles, amphibians, and spiders are less likely to cause allergies.

Pet allergies can last anywhere from a few hours to a few days depending on your sensitivity to them.

Good to know: Eye allergies in one eye are uncommon. They may occur only if pet dander or another allergen gets in the eye. However, it’s more likely that there’s another underlying cause behind your symptoms.

What Symptoms Do Pet Allergies Cause?

Pet allergies often cause the inflammation of the nasal passages, which can make your eyes feel itchy or watery, in addition to giving you a stuffy or runny nose.

Symptoms of pet allergies can be similar to those caused by the common cold. They can include:

  • Sneezing
  • Coughing
  • Scratchy throat
  • Hives
  • Shortness of breath
  • Fatigue
woman with long wavy blond hair with allergy symptoms and napkin in one hand having watery eyes and runny nose

Good to know: Pet allergies can also worsen asthma symptoms. If you or a member of your family has asthma, it’s important to consult with a doctor to understand your options.

Treatments for Pet Allergies

If you have a mild pet allergy, you may not need any treatment. When your symptoms are more frequent and unpleasant, you can try treatment in the form of antihistamines and nasal corticosteroids.

These treatments are available over the counter. Immunotherapy delivered as allergy shots are also available. These lower your allergen sensitivity for longer periods.

We’ve already seen that pet allergens can cause eye symptoms. But common pet allergy medication like antihistamines can also cause eye symptoms including dry eye disease.

Antihistamines can cause other symptoms too including dry mouth, cough, dizziness, drowsiness, and nausea.

Tip: Find out more about the difference between dry eye disease and eye allergies.

Can You Prevent Pet Allergies?

You can reduce the risk of suffering a pet allergy even if you have a pet in your home without taking any medication. Here are some simple and effective things you can do.

  • Brush your pets regularly and do it outdoors.
  • Filter the air in your home using a high-efficiency particulate air filter (HEPA).
  • Vacuum carpets, rugs, floors, and other surfaces that your pet regularly comes into contact with.
  • Bathe your dog with dog shampoo to reduce the spread of pet dander in your home.
  • Don’t encourage your pets to stay on the couch, which can harbor a lot of pet allergens.
  • Keep your pets out of the bedroom.
  • Wash your hands after touching your pet even if your pet stays mostly indoors.
  • Use a vacuum cleaner with a HEPA filter and vacuum once a week or more often.
  • Wear a disposable dust mask when cleaning your home if you are sensitive to pet allergens.
  • Remove carpets from the areas where your pet spends most of their time, such as the living room, as these tend to attract the most allergens.
  • Use mops instead of brooms and damp cloths instead of dusters to clean your home as these can limit the spread of allergens through the air.
  • Wash laundry and dog beds at high temperatures.
  • Brush pet dander and hair from your clothes. 
woman with long wavy blond hair brushing off pet hair from her shirt sleeve with roller while brown cat sits on the chair in the background

Remember that it’s important to adapt these measures to the type of pet you have. For example, pets with longer coats may produce more allergens and require more frequent cleaning than breeds with a shorter coat.

Keeping Your Eyes Healthy

As you can see, there’s a lot you can do to prevent and manage eye allergies from pets. A mild allergy to pet dander doesn’t have to mean that you can’t keep a pet. For more serious allergies, it’s good to talk with a doctor.

In your quest to reduce pet allergies affecting the eyes, you may also want to support your eye health. In our busy digital age, it’s all too easy to develop eye symptoms which have nothing to do with your pet.

Dry eyes is a common example. If you already have dry eyes, having a pet allergy can make your symptoms worse.

One way to support your eyes is to provide them with the nutrients they need to function at their best. A healthy diet is the first step, but you also want to consider an eye health supplement like SightC.

SightC is a superfood blend that brings together lutein, zeaxanthin, and other antioxidants and nutrients that play a crucial role in vision. Some of these nutrients also support the normal function of the tear glands and contribute to a stable tear film.

Learn more about SightC and how it can help your eyes.

Leave a comment

Please note: comments must be approved before they are published.