Things you need to know
- Many pets are abandoned due to the owner's allergies.
- Dubai-based veterinary surgeon recommends getting a comprehensive check-up with the doctor.
- Owners can discuss possible treatments.
Dubai: When we get a pet, it should become a part of our family. But, it is unfortunate that some people abandon their cats due to allergies.
At the Pearls of the Emirates, a Dubai-based animal welfare and environmental organisation that educates the younger generation, we have received animals in the recent past, which weren’t wanted anymore just because the owners could not maintain their allergies.
Just last month, Delphie, a pet cat, was abandoned by its owners very quickly without them even checking with a specialist if it was really a cat allergy or not. Often, the reaction people have is due to dust.
Delphie is a two-year-old American Bobtail that was found dumped in a parking lot in Abu Dhabi, abandoned by its owners. The owner justified the act by stating that she suddenly became allergic. Delphie is very timid and calm and due to her abandonment, she now takes time to trust people. She gets scared each time a child screams around her. But, once she feels secure, she is very sweet and affectionate.
Another pair of cats, Mano and Mona, was dumped at the age of just three weeks in Dubai. They were lucky to find a family in Sharjah within a few weeks, who then returned them a few months later as their daughter had severe asthma.
It seems like this has become the easy way out for people to abandon or give away their pet. Doctors seem to mainly blame cat or dog allergies as the prime cause, without conducting tests.
I decided to do my own research and speak to specialists about this issue.
Dr Paulina Altrych, a veterinary surgeon based in Dubai, witnesses the issue of unwanted animals very often and in many of the cases, it is related to the owner’s allergic reactions.
She said: “The most important is not only an animal’s health and welfare, but also the happiness of people who live around. Before anyone starts blaming a cat or a dog, a comprehensive check-up with the doctor must be done. In many cases, after proper consultation with an allergist, the final diagnosis shows what exactly causes all the symptoms.”
Even if the diagnosis is positive, and it’s proven that one is allergic to his or her pet, Dr Altrych recommends discussing possible treatments, rather than abandoning the animal.
She said: “It will take time and lots of effort. Always discuss all possible treatments with your doctor. There are many safe ways to overcome the allergy. But, also focus on the hygiene and general cleanliness. There are many ways to reduce the level of allergens in the environment and decrease the amount of allergens being released, too. Stay positive and give your pet a chance.
“Unfortunately, in some cases, severe reactions can’t let us keep our pet and in the end there is a need for a new loving home. But, at least we know we tried our best.”
Dr Buchert Sylvain, a general practitioner based in Dubai, recommends that people should get checks done for allergies before adopting a pet.
He said: “If you are considering adopting a cat and you think you are allergic, first make sure that you are tested by an allergist, a medical practitioner specialising in the diagnosis and treatment of allergies, to be sure of an animal allergy. Specifically for cats, one has to verify that you are actually sensitive to the Fel d1 protein.”
According to a paper published in the US National Library of Medicine, Fel d1 is an allergen found in a cat’s fur, saliva and urine.
Dr Sylvain said: “When you know you’re allergic to domestic animals, avoid adopting. There is also no need to abandon a cat if you are allergic. If the symptoms are bearable, it is possible to continue living with your cat.”
After speaking to these specialists, I went in for an allergy test myself. It took three weeks of analysis, only to be diagnosed as allergic to certain medication, insects and animals, including horses and cats.
Despite this, I am still living with four cats and still rescuing many others. I take careful measures that are stated by the specialists. There are several levels of allergies, thus it is recommended to observe the symptoms and then consult a recommended specialist who will carefully analyse the issue before pronouncing any drastic measures.
If a severe cat or dog allergy is pronounced, one should contact the animal welfare associations and give them time to find a solution, as allergic or not, it is a crime, punishable by the law, to abandon a pet.
— The reader is the founder of Pearls of the Emirates based in Dubai.