Pet Allergies including Cat Dander and Dog Dander
"For an estimated 10% of the entire population that can be allergic to animals, it is important to know what exactly causes their allergies, where these 'triggers' can be encountered, and what to do to minimize exposure."
Allergic reactions to cats and dogs are caused by the animal's dander, or skin flakes. Pollen, dust, mold or other allergens presents on animal hair or fur can cause allergic reactions as well. And there is no such thing as a non- or hypo-allergenic breed of dog or cat.
While animal allergens are found mostly in homes where pets are present, these allergens are also found in smaller quantities in places where pets have never been. Due to the sticky nature of dander, they are often transported from the home to workplaces or schools on the clothing of those around the pets. Dander also gets stuck in carpets, mattresses and where it stays for long periods of time, and even up to six months after the pet has been removed unless special treatments are applied.
Cat allergies affect some six million Americans, one third of who have cats in their homes, the rest are exposed to the dander carried to public places by others. Allergic reactions are not caused by cat hair, but a protein present in their dander and saliva. When inhaled into the nose and lungs, the microscopic airborne allergens can cause mild to severe reactions depending on one's degree of sensitivity or proximity to them.
While dog allergy is less common than cat allergy, it is the protein in the dander that causes a reaction, not the hair. And like with those allergic to cats, contact with dog saliva may trigger a response as well.
Due to their tendency to scratch themselves more, and more vigorously, than cats, dog allergen is typically distributed with greater frequency and in higher concentration. The reason for this degree of scratching is often because the dog is allergic to something in your home, most commonly, mold.
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Page last modified: 10/23/14
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