Last updated on January 27th, 2019 at 10:41 am
Understanding rabbit allergic reactions
Although pet allergies are commonly associated with dogs and cats, rabbits can also be a source. These allergies are nothing other than the body’s reaction towards a substance that it cannot tolerant (allergen).
Your immune system protects your body against harmful foreign bodies which when found, it makes antibodies to fight the foreign body. Sometimes, what it considers harmful may not be harmful in the real sense. Therefore, it is possible to have an allergic reaction to a substance that may not be harmful.
However, these reactions are important in case something that is truly harmful invades you such as influenza.
The sources of allergies from rabbits is the proteins in its dander (rabbit dander allergy from dead skin cells), urine, saliva, soon. However, anything that may be trapped in its fur including pollen, dust, house dust mites, mold, among others can be the cause of rabbit fur allergy.
Also, to some bunny owners, the pet may not the source of the allergy, instead, it could be bedding, hay, among other things.
Finally, even with proper hygiene including clean water, fresh food, clean rabbit toys among other accessories, it is possible to suffer from allergies if they are caused by these pets and not their environment or food.
Rabbit allergy symptoms
The exact symptoms noted may vary from one individual to another. However, the most commonly reported symptoms include the following:
- A runny nose
- An itchy throat and skin
- Watery and itchy eyes
- Facial pain or pressure
- Swollen eyes or face
- Skin rashes including hives
- Nose rubbing
For people who are asthmatic, additional symptoms that they may suffer from including the following:
- Wheezing or whistling sound while breathing out especially if airway constriction due to the release of histamine
- Breathing difficulties,
- Chest pain and tightness
- Sleeping troubles due to breath shortness, coughing and wheezing
- Anaphylaxis is also possible
Since some of these symptoms may mimic those of colds, you will be able to know it is not cold if it happens each time you go near these pets and it goes away after a few days.
How do we get it?
For those who get affected, the first way we get it is by inhaling the various allergens or coming touching this pet. For instance, urine, pet dander, and so on can get itself into the air and we inhale it.
Additionally, as the rabbit licks itself while grooming, licks you, nudge you or as you touch it while petting or grooming it, its saliva may be transferred to your hand and if you touch your eyes, nose or mouth areas, it may trigger a reaction, i..e., the immunity cells will respond back.
If you are not allergic to these proteins or any other thing that your pet’s fur may be holding, nothing is going to happen to you.
Treating and managing rabbit allergies
Whereas some people may opt to give up this pet, there are several ways to manage this problem. Not everyone will give up their pet, and only a fifth of pet owners will give them up due to allergies. Note that there are even asthmatic people who still have pets and they do not affect them.
Also, having pets as a companion is healthy as they will calm you and help reduce blood pressure. Furthermore, pets might help realize various allergies you have and get early treatment.
However, if you have severe cases common in some asthmatics, some reactions can be life-threatening and getting your pet a new home or giving him or her up may be recommended. Here are important steps in managing this problem.
Determine their source
Whereas many people may blame their rabbit’s as a source of their allergies, this might not be the case. It could be something else including dust from hay, dust mites, pollen on their fur, among other allergens.
Go for a rabbit allergy test
Secondly, you need to consider a test to be certain which things cause this reaction. Once determined, you will be able to know which strategies you can use to avoid them. Tests such as the IgE will use your blood sample to determine whether you are allergic to these pets or not.
Try preventive strategies
The following strategies are to help you manage the effects:
Reduce direct contact
Wear protective clothing when handling your bunnies such as gloves, masks, eyeglasses. Also, avoid touching your face after handling them unless you have thoroughly washed your hands.
Finally, let someone else clean their housing while doors are closed, and remove any soiled hay or litter.
Bunny-proofing and limiting access
Restrict the areas where these pets can access using the various bunny proofing approaches including baby gates and so on.
Have rooms including your bedroom where these pets cannot access to act as a safe place where there are no allergens to stimulate your immunity system.
Keep proper hygiene
Frequently dust or vacuum your whole house including window ledges, lamps, curtains, furniture, door frames, carpets, and under your beds. Wooden floors should be damp mopped.
Additionally, consider changing their hay, misting it, placing it where you rarely go and use hay feeders that do not allow it to be cluttered all over if it is the cause.
Consider air filters
Air filtration units such as HEPA can get rid of various microscopic things in the air including dander, fur, dust, and so on especially in places where you spend much time such as your bedroom and living room as well as where your bunnies live.
Also, ensure you regularly change filters of your central air system and go for one with electrostatic filters.
Use products that neutralize allergies
Apply liquid or sprays of products such as Allerpet/C or AllePet to your pet’s fur to minimize as well as neutralize fur allergens. However, avoid shampoo-based ones since a rabbit should not be bathed or it should be done occasionally and in the right way.
Regular coat brushing
Regularly brush your pet’s fur while outside and wipe their fur with a damp piece of cloth while you have your protective wears on.
Select your rabbit breed carefully
Long-haired breeds such as the angora rabbits are susceptible more dander and they will also lick their fur more and it will collect more dust and other allergens. They also need regular grooming. This makes them not the best choice if you suffer from rabbit allergy.
Treatments and rabbit allergy medicine
Besides the above ways to manage them, there are various over the counter allergy medicines as well as the use of antihistamines to minimize their various symptoms.
Nasal sprays that have anti-inflammatories will suppress your immunity where they are applied and thus it will not react. Also, consider allergy shots (desensitizing shots) as they can be helpful.
Dog vs rabbit allergies vs cat allergies
Since immunity systems are very specific, suffering from dog allergies does not mean you will also fur from those caused by rabbits or cats. You may not.