Many people say they are allergic to pets, but are pet allergies real? Actually 10 to 15% of people react to pet dander. Cat allergies are twice as common as being allergic to dogs. The human body reacts to specific protein (allergen) in the pet’s saliva, dander (dead skin flakes) and urine. Most people think it is the pet fur that makes them sneeze when it fact it is not. What make most people sneeze are the microscopic flakes of dander found in the carpet, on furniture and in the air. This dander can linger in a home long after the pet is gone.
The most common allergic reactions humans have to their pets include sneezing, wheezing, and runny nose and runny eyes. Pet dander can make your nasal passage swell and can even cause asthma.
It is a myth that there are non-allergenic breeds of cats or dogs. The truth is that if the dog or cat has skin, it will have pet dander. There are some breeds that people tolerate better than others (won’t sneeze as much or react to the dander as much).
Did you know that the allergic symptoms you experience could peak 12 hours after you handled the pet?
If you want to own pets and are allergic the best thing you can do is to take out all carpet putting down washable throw rugs that you can clean frequently instead. When vacuuming use a bag with a HEPA filters. Never allow pets in the bedroom and when brushing your pet do so outside while you wear a facemask to prevent breathing in pet dander. Make sure you change your clothes after brushing your pet.
Pet dander can be wiped off of smooth surfaces like walls but soft materials like carpets; upholstered furniture, clothing and mattresses can harbor the allergens from pets. Pet dander can be transferred from the environment where the pet is to other areas such as workplaces and schools because the dander can be on the clothing of pet owners. This is possible because pet dander is sticky.
Cats and dogs are the most commonly recognized culprits of pet allergies but other animals can also trigger allergic responses such as hamsters, guinea pigs, rabbits, and rats. Birds can carry allergy-provoking mites, and can carry molds and pollen on feathers. The bird droppings can release proteins into the air, which will then cause lung problems including asthma. It is even possible to be allergic to the mold that grow in the fish tank and to the ant’s eggs that some fish feed upon.
Champaign County Humane Society Pet Library On-Line: Allergies to Pets: Facts and Myths http://www.cuhumane.org/topics/allergy.html
Allergy Be gone: About Pet Dander Allergies http://www.allergybegone.com/aboutpetdander.html