More than one in ten dog and cat lovers are ALLERGIC to their own pets, a survey has shown.
A staggering 13 per cent of pet owners or a close relative regularly suffer an adverse reaction to their pets.
And of those, frighteningly one in ten have required urgent hospital treatment.
The findings comes from a poll of 2,000 dog and cat lovers in the UK commissioned by leading pet insurers AnimalFriends.co.uk,
It found that 25 per cent of those with allergies stated that their allergies actually improved after being exposed to a pet while 16 per cent said their condition had worsened.
The poll also highlighted a huge rise in the popularity of so-called hypoallergenic cross breeds - dog breeds which are specifically not to be allergic.
Nearly one in five dog or cat owners said they had specifically bought a hypoallergenic dog at an average cost of £305.
Popular cross-breeds included labradoodles (labrador/poodle crosses) and cockerpoos (cocker spaniel/poodles crosses) and Bichon Frise and Poodle breeds
The survey went onto reveal that almost half (44 per cent) of Brits didn't realise they had an allergy until they bought their pet, 30% live with someone who suffers from an allergy and 36 per cent confessed that they avoid visiting friends and even family members with pets to avoid irritating their symptoms.
When it comes to treating their allergies, anti-histamines are the most common way to alleviate symptoms (67 per cent) followed by limiting physical contact with their pet (33 per cent), restricting the animal to certain rooms of the house (20 per cent) and using an air filter in the home (12 per cent).
Westley Pearson, Claims & Marketing Director from Animalfriends.co.uk, commented: "It's a shame when allergies get in the way of people's relationships with their pets.
"However, we would strongly advise spending time with your new furry friend before taking the plunge and moving them into your home, as this can make any allergies obvious.
"Understanding your allergies before you adopt or buy a dog is extremely important, as it can help to avoid people having to give up their animals to a shelter. Who wouldn't want to spend a little extra time with a new pet to protect both you and them!"
A spokesman for Allergy UK said: " Despite popular belief, all dogs possess the allergenic material known to produce allergic reactions in humans, and therefore reported differences of sensitivity to different breeds probably relates more to level of exposure.
"Even breeds that are described as 'hairless' still have allergens found in dander from skin sources. It is possible that longer hair may harbour other allergens such as dust mite, pollens and moulds, to which an individual may also be sensitive."
The charity publishes advice about pet allergies at www.allergyuk.org/about-allergy-menu/about-allergy