Pet dander allergy is the most common allergy in humans that develop negative reactions to pets. Humans are not allergic to pet hair, as many would think- people are allergic to pet dander. Cat and dog dander contains a protein, the glycoprotein Fel d1, which causes the allergic reactions. The symptoms of the pet dander allergies range from light reactions such as sneezing to severe reactions such as anaphylactic shock.
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Pet Dander Allergy Symptoms
The airborne dander may affect sensitive people. Typically, the symptoms are present in the contact regions: eyes, nose, skin or lungs.
The most common symptoms of pet dander allergies include:
- Frequent sneezing
- Swelling of airwaves resulting in wheezing and difficulty in breathingSwelling of the nasal mucosa resulting in a stuffed nose- however in some cases, the allergic person may experience a runny nose
- Watery eyes
- Allergic conjunctivitis, resulting in red and itchy eyes
- Rashes on the skin
- Itchy skin
- Anaphylactic shock in rare cases- typically this reaction occurs in allergies to drugs or stings- however if the swelling of the airwaves is severe, a shot of epinephrine is needed to prevent coma or death
Causes of Pet Allergies
The glycoprotein Fel d1 is the main cause for pet allergies in humans. The protein is secreted by the sebaceous gland and is present in the cat and dog dander.
The dander is shed frequently and can be spread all around a pet owner`s home. Carpets, drapes or pillows are great spots for dander. The dander can be airborne and inhaled by humans. If a person is more sensitive or has a weaker immune system, he is likely to develop pet allergies.
Over 10% of pet owners in the US are allergic to pets.
The same protein is present in lower amounts in dog and cat urine and saliva. However, people are not allergic to pet hair. Consequently, a hairless pet will still cause allergies in susceptible people.
Unfortunately, a species of hypoallergenic dog or cat hasn`t been created yet.
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Typically, humans respond well to allergy shots. An immunization therapy may be needed for life, with frequent shots for a few years and yearly boosters.
Other treatment options include the antihistamines which will manage the symptoms but will not cure the allergies.
Steroids may also be prescribed to reduce swelling and relieve the allergic symptoms. Topical ointments containing corticosteroids are effective in reducing skin rashes and itchiness. However, steroids can only control the allergy symptoms and may also have a lot of side effects, if the drugs are taken for a long period of time.
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The use of air purifiers is effective in reducing the dander in your home. Also, vacuuming may help removing the allergens.
Frequent baths of your pet may also reduce the amount of dander that is shed in your home- add some fish oil to your pet`s diet, as this is an essential fatty acid that will improve the pet`s skin health and reduce flaking.