The Secret to Living With Allergies Part 2 Help With Pet Allergies
In Part 1: Understanding the Allergy Basics of the Allergy Control Products series on “The Secret to Living with Allergies,” the differences between seasonal allergies and indoor allergies were covered as well as diagnosing allergy triggers, the causes of allergy symptoms and important steps to take to find allergy relief. In indoor allergies, the top three allergen sources include dust mite allergens, molds and pet dander. Although some allergy sources are harder to identify, pet allergies may often be self-evident as contact with the animal or pet can cause obvious allergy symptoms. What may not be as well known is what causes pet allergies, as it is not actually the pet hair that is at the root of the problem. In Part 2 of the Allergy Control Products “The Secret to Living with Allergies” series, what causes pet allergies and steps to reduce allergy symptoms related to pet allergies will be covered.
Step 1: Learn the Facts About Pet Allergies that Cause Your Allergy Symptoms
Many people believe that what causes pet allergies is the pet hair, but the allergy-causing material is instead a protein found in the animal’s dander (made up of flaky skin cells and dried saliva), saliva or urine that triggers allergic reactions. These pet allergy particles are particularly small and your allergy symptoms begin as they are inhaled into the nose and lungs or come in contact with your eyes. In some cases, your allergic reaction may build up and occur hours after you come in contact with an animal. However, most often, an allergic reaction and the resulting allergy symptoms happen very quickly (within minutes).
Since all dogs or cats produce animal dander, unfortunately, none are hypoallergenic. Some animals may produce less dander and people with pet allergies may be more sensitive to some breeds than others. Symptoms of pet allergies can include sneezing, itchy eyes or nose, runny nose or nasal congestion and contact-induced rash or itching. For asthma sufferers, allergic reactions such as wheezing, shortness of breath and lung congestion can bring about even severe asthma symptoms.
Pet allergens (pet dander) are the highest in homes with pets, however, pet allergens can be found even in places where pets are not allowed. Pet dander is very sticky and can travel on clothing to public places. Pet dander can remain allergenic and cause allergy symptoms for long periods of time and important steps, covered in Step 3, should be taken to reduce contact with pet allergens.
Step 2: Millions Suffer from Pet Allergies, with Cat Allergies Being the Most Common Pet Allergy
Although many animals (from birds to horse to dogs) can cause pet allergies, the most common pet allergy is to cats. Cat allergy may be more predominant due to a higher potency of cat dander as an allergen or the fact that cats are not bathed as frequently as dogs and do more self-grooming, further increasing the presence of saliva and pet dander that leads to allergy symptoms. According to the American College of Allergy, Asthma & Immunology (ACAAI), approximately 10 percent of Americans may be allergic to animals. Of these allergy sufferers, many may have asthma and 20 to 30 percent of asthma sufferers have pet allergies. These asthma sufferers include kids with childhood asthma. The American Academy of Allergy, Asthma & Immunology (AAAAI) explains that allergic asthma (caused by allergens such as dust mites, cat and dog dander and other environmental allergens) is the most common form of asthma in children.
Taking important steps to control pet allergies can lead to a healthier life for you and your children and potentially avoid instances in which severe asthma or allergy reactions may take place.
Step 3: What to Do for Pet Allergy Relief
If you have pet allergies and there is a pet in the home, it may be necessary to find a new home for the pet. This step can be difficult to do and the necessity may be dependent on the severity of your allergic reaction. If your pet stays at home, the pet must be kept out of the allergy sufferer’s bedroom and you should wash hands or clothing after any contact. In either instance, cleaning steps throughout the home should be undertaken as it is important to get rid of pet allergens or keep levels as low as possible.
For effective pet allergy relief, begin with cleaning steps in your bedroom. Create a barrier between yourself and pet allergens that have accumulated in your bed by covering pillows, mattress and other bedding in allergy-proof bed encasings. Wash your linens and any other bedding frequently, and even consider replacing bedding items. The carpet can be the second largest allergy-causing source after the bed, and removing or treating the carpet will reduce your continued exposure to allergens that have built up in the soft carpet surface. Vacuum any remaining carpet regularly, and it is particularly important to use a HEPA filtration vacuum, as these vacuums are designed to contain small allergy particles such as pet dander. Air filters in your vents will keep pet allergy particles from circulating in the home, and special filters over an air vent in the bedroom provides an extra level of filtration in the allergy sufferer’s bedroom.
Using HEPA air cleaners or HEPA air purifiers can be particularly good for people with pet allergies, as the tiny pet allergy particle stays in the air for longer periods of time. The HEPA air filter has a better chance to capture these particles before they settle to the ground, for improved air cleaning. Give your pet frequent baths to help remove dander on the surface of skin or fur and reduce your pet’s need to groom itself.