Contrary to popular belief, people aren't allergic to animal hair, rather, to a protein found in the saliva, dander (dead skin cells), or urine of an animal with fur. These proteins are carried in the air on very small, invisible particles, which can land on the lining of the eyes or nose, or be inhaled directly into the lungs. Symptoms of animal allergy can include sneezing, an itchy, runny nose, and itchy, swollen eyes and throat. Itching of the skin or a raised, red rash (hives) can also result from touching an animal to which you are allergic. Usually, symptoms will occur quickly, sometimes within minutes after exposure to the animal. For some people, symptoms may build and become most severe 8 to 12 hours after they have had contact with the animal.
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