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Dr. Mark Hosko, MD, October 4 2021

How To Help Pet Allergies

How Long Do Pet Allergy Symptoms Last?

Pet allergies are frustrating for animal lovers and everyone else who ends up in contact with animals. Symptoms of pet allergies can affect everyday life as pets shed fur and skin. If an animal has fur, they can cause a pet allergy, but cats and dogs are the most common animals to cause allergies. Avoiding animals may not be possible or desired. Let's take a look at pet allergies and what you can do to combat the symptoms. 

How long do pet allergy symptoms last?

Pet allergy symptoms will last until the animal is permanently removed from the home. However, many symptoms can last for months afterward as pet dander and fur can stay in a home for months and even years later. Often, carpets hold animal dander and fur much longer. If you want to reduce symptoms, you will need to thoroughly clean carpets with a HEPA filter or replace the carpets. The same for fabric furniture, although other furniture can be washed. 

The initial allergy attack can last around two weeks until you find a new baseline, but that new baseline does not include immunity. Everyone is different though, and some people may not feel a difference until all the allergens are gone. Consider other places where animals may live, as going to those places can increase and prolong allergy symptoms. These places include friends' homes, camping, zoos, animal shelters, pet stores, and much more. 

How long does animal dander last?

Pet dander can attach to everything in the house and last for a very long time. Typically pet dander can stay in a house for four to six months after a pet leaves home. Cat dander lasts longer than dog dander as it's more airborne. 

Do allergies to pets go away?

Outgrowing allergies to animals is possible but not probable. Also, even those allergies can go away; they can come back again later in life. Keeping pets will not help to acclimate to allergies either. For some people, allergy symptoms can be worse in some seasons, especially in the heat when animals shed more. 

How do you treat pet allergies?

The most effective treatment for pet allergies is to avoid animals completely. However, if you cannot or will not avoid animals, you have a few treatment methods available. 

First, you can use nasal sprays, antihistamines, and bronchodilators to relieve symptoms, but this will not fix the problem long-term. You may need to try a variety of options to find out which one works best for you. Also, consider combining medications such as nasal sprays and antihistamines. Speak to your doctor if you are taking other medicines. 

Second, you can get allergy shots to slowly reduce symptoms with time. Taking allergy shots includes weekly injections of allergens over a period of three to ten years. Another option is to create a pet-free zone in your home. Use HEPA purifiers to reduce airborne allergens. If you can, keep animals outside and out of the house completely. 

Homeopathy remedies can offer some relief too. Local honey can help in some cases, as can essential oils. Vitamin C can improve the immune system and may offer mild support for pet allergies. Always talk to your doctor before trying new treatments. 

How do you get over pet allergies?

Currently, allergy shots are the only potential cure for pet allergies. All other methods help to mask the symptoms. Simply getting over pet allergies would be akin to getting over cancer or getting over diabetes. While some people seem to outgrow their allergies, most people do not lose their allergies and need to plan accordingly. 

What does a cat allergy look like?

Cat allergies can look different in everyone. However, most people experience one or more of the following symptoms: coughing, wheezing, hives, rash, itchy or red eyes, runny or stuffy nose, and sneezing. Some people may experience breathing problems to the point of needing an inhaler. 

Can you suddenly become allergic to cats?

Yes, it is possible to suddenly develop an allergy to cats. Doctors and scientists are not sure why allergies for animals can randomly pop up, but the treatment is the same for the sudden emergence of lifelong allergies. 

How long do allergic reactions to cats last?

The allergic reactions last until the cat is gone and all of the pet dander is out of the house and everything in the house. Also, cats often shed more in the heat, and you may find allergy symptoms will last longer when they shed. 

Can you suddenly become allergic to dogs?

Yes, you can suddenly develop an allergy to dogs even if you never had problems before. As our immune systems age or move, they can react poorly to new or even old things in our life-like pets. Furthermore, you may find you are only allergic to some breeds of dogs with more dander. Not all dogs are the same, and you can find even in the same breed that you are allergic to one dog and not another. 

Do dog allergies get worse over time?

Dog allergies can get worse with time, the same with cat allergies. As allergies are an immune system response, if your immune system weakens, it does mean allergies can worsen over time. Allowing your dog to lick you and sit on your lap can help to make your allergies worse. Try to reduce what you can, like licking, and bathe your pet regularly to help reduce allergens. 

Can you build up an immunity to dog allergies?

With allergy shots, you can safely build up immunity to dog allergies. However, simply having dogs and dander around will not improve immunity over time. Being miserable is not a solution to hopefully improve immunity. Over time, you may find yourself getting sick often and harm your health. However, working with an allergist, they can help you to improve your immunity over time with allergy shots. 

Is it possible to get used to dog allergies?

While you can get used to sniffling, sneezing, and itchy eyes over time, it will take a toll on your body and immune system. People who experience breathing problems from dog allergies cannot get used to breathing poorly. 

With help, you can live more comfortably with dog allergies. Keep one-room dog-free. Clean often, keep air filters up to date, get an air purifier, and try to reduce shedding by bathing the dog often and brushing the animal often. Next, take over-the-counter medicine to reduce symptoms. If possible, keep your dogs outside to reduce allergens in your home. Change your clothes if your dog decides to sit or slobber on you. 

What are the worst dog breeds for allergies?

If you want a dog but have allergies, you need to avoid several breeds that are worse for allergy sufferers. Avoid basset hounds, dachshund, siberian husky, springer spaniel, boxer, akita, labrador, pomeranian, saint bernard, german shepherd, doberman, and boston terriers. Look instead for dogs with hair instead of fur to reduce but not eliminate allergens. 

Can pet allergies weaken your immune system?

Yes, pet allergies can weaken your immune system. Moreover, not treating the allergy can lead to more sickness and breathing issues. Allergens put a strain on your body and reduce health over time. It's never a good idea to become complacent about your immune system. 

Do air purifiers work for pet allergies?

Air purifiers can reduce airborne allergens, but you do need to get a purifier with a HEPA filter to remove more and smaller particles. However, an air purifier is not a fix-all and cannot remove all pet dander or fur. Also, they are expensive and require regular maintenance and new filters to help. 

What is the best medicine for pet allergies?

Antihistamines are the best medicine for pet allergies as they block the effects of the allergens that affect your immune system. You can buy a variety of over-the-counter medications or speak to your doctor for a stronger antihistamine. Nasal sprays are another option to reduce symptoms, as are decongestants. There are no good options for those with breathing problems from pet allergies. 


Pet allergies are frustrating for animal lovers and everyone else who ends up in contact with animals. Symptoms of pet allergies can affect everyday life as pets shed fur and skin. If an animal has fur, they can cause a pet allergy, but cats and dogs are the most common animals to cause allergies. Avoiding animals may not be possible or even desired. Hopefully some of the tips and tricks above can help you manage your pet allergies. 

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Written by

Dr. Mark Hosko, MD

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