Managing Pet Allergies: What You Need to Know About Pet Dander

Managing pet allergies begins with learning about pet dander and the causes of allergy symptoms. What else can you do to prevent pet allergies from happening?

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Achoo! Do you start sneezing non-stop or get itchy after playing with your pets? The struggle is real if you have allergies, but you can’t resist snuggling with your pets. Learn more about pet dander and how it can contribute to allergies, then follow these simple steps to improve your pet allergy symptoms.

 

Learn About Allergens and Pet Dander

Pet allergies are commonly triggered by exposure to pet dander, dead skin cells which a pet sheds. They can also be triggered by being in areas where pets relieve themselves. Even saliva from your sweet pet’s smooch can cause your allergies to flare.

Pet Allergens Are Everywhere

Pet Allergens Are Everywhere

Many people are allergic to pet dander, which can be suspended in the air like pollen. They are called aeroallergens. Pet dander collects on surfaces like carpets, upholstered furniture, curtains and mattresses. Because it travels easily through the air, these allergens may also cling to your clothes and hair and are easily transferred in public settings where animals aren’t present, like schools and offices. If you suddenly start sneezing at work, it may be a cat allergy; one of the causes may be your new cat-loving co-worker.

Are There Hypoallergenic Pets?

Are There Hypoallergenic Pets?

Even though your cat may be hairless, or you have a supposed “allergy-friendly” breed of dog, your pet is not actually hypoallergenic. You may be more or less allergic to individual animals — for example, you may have a cat allergy — but any furry or feathered friend produces proteins that can still trigger allergies.

Which Pets Cause the Most Allergy Symptoms?

Which Pets Cause the Most Allergy Symptoms?

More people have a cat allergy than a dog allergy because cats groom themselves with their tongues, depositing saliva on top of dander. Dogs produce most allergens in their tongue tissue, and it is found in hair, dander and saliva. You can also be allergic to rabbits, birds, ferrets and any other type of animal commonly kept as a pet.

Reduce Pet Dander Exposure

Just because you’re allergic to your pets doesn’t mean you always have to avoid them. Here are some tips to help reduce your exposure to pet allergens in your home.

Don’t Sleep Next to Your Pet

Don’t Sleep Next to Your Pet

Teach your pet to sit and stay – separate from where you sleep. The warmth from your cat or dog couldn’t be cozier, but keeping your bedroom as a pet-free zone may help decrease your nighttime allergy symptoms and increase your needed shut-eye.

Vacuum Often

Vacuum Often

Removing pet dander in your home by vacuuming up dust and fur from carpets and furniture can help reduce your allergies [link to article A6: Deep Cleaning for Allergies]. Invest in a vacuum that has a HEPA filter and double-thickness bags. Vacuuming may stir up dust and dander, so delegate the task to a family member or wear a dust mask.

Clean Cages and Bedding

Clean Cages and Bedding

Even small pets can cause a big reaction. Small rodents like gerbils, mice and guinea pigs spread allergens too. Because their cages are filled with bedding, large amounts of allergens can be found there. Clean cages and tanks regularly and supply clean, fresh bedding.

Purify the Air

Purify the Air

Placing HEPA air filters in rooms where you and your pets hang out together may improve air quality [link to article B3 How to Manage Children’s Indoor Allergies] in those rooms. If you have an air conditioning system, change the filter often and choose high-quality filters.

Keep Allergy Medication on Hand

Despite all attempts to minimize pet allergen exposure, sometimes allergies are just so persistent, and you start to feel allergy symptoms. It’s always good to have antihistamines at the ready.

Loratadine (Claritin®) is a doctor-prescribed antihistamine that works in as fast as 15 minutes to block histamine receptors. It provides less-drowsy relief vs. cetirizine and lasts up to 24 hours – which means more quality time with your furry family members!

If symptoms persist, consult your doctor. Individual responses may vary.

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REFERENCES

  • Pet allergy : Are there hypoallergenic dog breeds? Mayo Clinic. Accessed March 24, 2020.
  • Roman LS. Onset of action of loratadine in seasonal allergic rhinitis . Today's Therapeutic Trends. 1988;6(2): 19-27.
  • Haria, M et al. “Loratadine. A reappraisal of its pharmacological properties and therapeutic use in allergic disorders.” Drugs vol. 48,4 (1994): 617-37. doi:10.2165/00003495-199448040-00009