Dealing with a Pet Dander Allergy

Over two thirds of all homes have pets, yet, official estimates of those who have a pet dander allergy or are allergic to animals reach as high as ten percent. That is a guarantee of a lot of potential allergies. However, there are several effective strategies for dealing with those facts.

Pet Dander Allergy Effects

Allergic rhinitis, skin rash or other symptoms are the result of contact chiefly with animal dander.

Dander is the collection of tiny skin cells shed by cats and dogs. They are picked up on the hands by petting and come into contact with the nose, mouth and eyes from eating and other common activities.

Pet Dander Allergy Allergens

In some cases the culprit is proteins contained in the animal’s saliva.

Dogs and cats lick their fur, which deposits those potential allergens on to the hair. We pet them and pick it up.

Pet dander allergy allergens can also become airborne. That means that proximity, not just contact, is enough to move the substance close enough to cause problems.

There are other possible sources, much less common.

Bird waste carries proteins that can cause a reaction.

Mold from fish tanks and other water sources is a possibility but these are a small percentage of the total.

We love our pets and getting rid of them just is not acceptable to most of us, even when the result is a runny nose or watery eyes. Keeping them outside all the time also is not the preferred solution for many. We like to keep them close. But there are still several good ways to minimize the problem.

How to Get Rid of Pet Allergies | Stephen Dreskin, MD, PhD, Allergy and Immunology | UCHealth

Pet Dander Allergy Prevention

Bathing dogs once per month can help reduce dander, if the proper shampoo is used. Otherwise, you may increase the amount of dander. Use a shed control or oatmeal-based skin care shampoo to keep the skin and coat healthy.

Cats do not usually tolerate baths, so other preventive measures are called for. These are effective for those with dogs, too.

Keeping a spotless house is the best form of (at least partial) pet dander allergy prevention. Keeping the quantity of dander low on surfaces and in the air helps. Many allergies are mild and build up as the ‘dosage’ of allergen increases.

An effective HEPA filter vacuum cleaner can remove a lot of dander from the carpet, furniture and drapes. As it picks up the skin cells, it also removes hair that might be coated with saliva.

Since dander and hair particles can and do become airborne, wiping down the walls from time to time is also beneficial. At the same time, a good cleansing of the bathroom and kitchen will pick up mold growing in moist areas. There are some studies that suggest that one type of allergy can amplify the effects of another.

Cleanse yourself as well. Wash your hands and face after grooming or petting your animal. Keeping pet dander allergy allergen levels down on your body helps reduce the odds of a reaction. For the truly sensitive, a good mask worn while grooming can help.

Keep your hands away from the nose and mouth. We all eat finger food, sandwiches and other types that bring the hand to the mouth. But avoid picking your teeth with a fingernail. Do not insert your finger in your nose. These are instances of direct transmission. That also helps keep cold viruses, bacteria and other disease causing bugs at bay.

You may do everything possible to minimize the quantity and contact with pet dander and saliva. Yet, you can still get allergies. Medication can help relieve your symptoms. Antihistamines, corticosteroids and other medications when used properly can ease the symptoms of a pet dander allergy but if they persist, it is advisable to see a specialist.