How Pets cause allergies

The number of pets in the United States is estimated at more than 100,000,000. Nearly half of U.S. households have a dog or a cat. There is often a bittersweet relation between pet owners and their pets when the animal they love so dearly is causing them health problems such as allergies. Luckily, there are many different ways to control allergy symptoms without having to part ways with your pet! However, if your allergy is serious enough that it requires emergency medications for asthma attacks – you may have no choice but to part with your pet.

Any animal with fur or feathers can contribute to your allergies. Pet allergy is an allergic reaction to a protein found in an animal’s skin cells, saliva, or urine. Most often, pet allergens are triggered by exposure to the dead flakes of skin (dander) a pet sheds. The animal hair is not considered an allergen, but can collect pollen, dust, mold and other allergens. Any animal with fur can be a source of pet allergy but the most common animals are dogs, cats, rodents, and horses. Cat allergies are the most common because they clean themselves so often! A cat’s habit of constantly cleaning itself causes saliva to be spread to their fur. When the saliva dries and the fur sheds, it is sticky enough to easily adhere to places the cat has never even visited. These allergens turn up in places like cars, offices, aircrafts, furniture, and carpets. Dogs also have dander that can trigger allergies, though it is not as common of a problem as cats.

Fighting Dander

  1. Purchase an air purifier, one especially with a High Efficiency Particulate Air filter (HEPA). These filters are especially known for trapping pet dander as well as other common allergens such as dust, pollen, mold, and bacteria. These filters are able to trap 99.97% of all airborne particles that are as small as 0.3 microns in size and 95% of the minutest particles down to 0.1 micron. Pet dander is between 0.5-100 microns so the HEPA filter will be able to remove 99.97% of the pet dander.
  2. Frequent vacuuming and washing of curtains and rugs will help reduce the particles hidden and stuck in them. To be even more cautious you can replace rugs and carpets with tile or wood floors. This will reduce the amount of dander trapped around the household.
  3. It is important to bathe your pets twice a month, but not more than that because it can give the animal dry skin.
  4. You might consider putting your pet outdoors as a way to reduce the allergens in your home. It will reduce the dander in your home to a level that does not cause your symptoms to flare up.

If the above measures do not help reduce allergic symptoms, it may not be best to continue living with the pet. However, the decision to keep the pet is always an individual decision based on the severity of the allergy symptoms.

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