Select a Topic
- What are Pet Dander Allergies?
- Symptoms of Pet Dander Allergies
- Diagnosing Pet Dander Allergies
- Help for Pet Dander Allergies
What are Pet Dander Allergies?
Animals have proteins in their skin cells that can cause allergic reactions in some people. Dander refers to the dead flakes of skin that trigger an allergic reaction. As pets shed dander, it becomes trapped in furniture, carpets and draperies. The continuous exposure causes a variety of symptoms in those with allergies. Dander allergies can be caused by any animal with fur, but the most common allergies are to dogs, cats, horses and rodents like hamsters and guinea pigs.
Symptoms of Pet Dander Allergies
Pet dander allergies can be mild to severe and the symptoms vary from person to person. Common symptoms include itchy skin, watery eyes and sneezing. Prolonged exposure to allergens can lead to skin rashes and conditions like eczema. Allergens may also trigger chronic sinus inflammation and asthma attacks. Most pet dander allergies are not life threatening.
Diagnosing Pet Dander Allergies
In many cases, pet allergies are very apparent without the need for medical testing. Allergic reactions occur almost immediately after touching an animal. In some instances, allergies may be suspected, but the reaction is not severe and immediate. In that case, a physician will likely perform tests to determine if pet dander is the cause and what animals you may be allergic to.
Skin tests are the most common way to confirm allergies. Skin prick tests involve placing a small amount of a suspected allergen just under the skin surface and waiting for fifteen minutes to see if there is a reaction. A raised bump or irritation at the site indicates a positive result. Once allergies are confirmed, a treatment plan can be discussed.
Help for Pet Dander Allergies
Those with mild allergies usually do not have to give up their pets. There are many ways to minimize exposure to dander. Avoid kissing and hugging animals to keep dander away from the face. Wash your hands immediately after petting or handling them for any reason.
Remove carpets and rugs from the home and opt for hard floors instead to keep excessive dander from being trapped. Keep pets out of bedrooms and off upholstered furniture. Sweep and mop floors regularly using a vacuum with a HEPA filter. Use a steam mop to clean since steam is an effective, green way to kill pathogens without introducing other pollutants to the household.
Those with more serious allergies can benefit from immunotherapy; a series of allergy shots given over time to help minimize or eliminate allergic reactions. For periodic exposure, antihistamines can be used to treat an allergic reaction, but they are not recommended for long-term use.