Allergies to Pet Dander

Allergies to pet dander are one of the top problems that human allergy sufferers have to deal with. Not being a pet owner and avoiding direct contact with pets can be a great solution in eliminating allergies to pets, but there are some people who cannot avoid pets, being pet owners. Understanding the pet dander allergies can help pet owners control and reduce allergic symptoms.

Causes of Pet Dander Allergies

Pet dander allergies occur in hypersensitive people that have an immune system responding negatively to the dander. The immune system is faced with the compounds in the dander and will identify it as a threat for the body, so inflammatory cells and histamines will be secreted. The ingredient in pet dander that is the cause of allergies is a glycoprotein.

Symptoms of Pet Dander Allergies

A person allergic to pet dander will sneeze when in the presence of pets or areas filled with pet dander. In addition to sneezing, there may be other symptoms:

  • Skin irritation and itchiness
  • Stuffy nose or clear nasal discharges
  • Ocular discharges
  • Fever
  • Swelling of extremities or face
  • Constricted respiratory airways, causing problems in breathing and coughing, which is indicative of anaphylactic shock

Diagnosing Pet Dander Allergies

The symptoms alone cannot give a precise diagnosis, because they may also be indicative of a respiratory infection or other types of allergies. A blood test can give accurate results. A person allergic to pet dander will have an antibody in their blood, secreted when the dander glycoprotein causes a negative reaction in the body. Injecting the pet dander glycoprotein under the skin can also help in diagnosing pet dander allergies.

Treatments for Pet Dander Allergies

A person that is severely allergic to pet dander should carry an epinephrine shot with him at all times, to be able to get the shot in a timely manner. The shot needs to be administered within 7 minutes of the inception of the allergic symptoms.

For people with less severe allergic reactions, there are a few medication treatments available to reduce pet dander allergies:

  • Antihistamine pills, effective in constricting the production of histamines and allergy symptoms
  • Steroid medication and creams

Allergy shots are recommended for pet owners and may be used as soon as the allergies are diagnosed, but the patient will only show improvement after 4 to 6 months of shots.

Immune system supplements may also be helpful.

Handling Pet Allergies

On top of pet dander allergy treatment, a person allergic to pet dander should also minimize his exposure to dander. This may not necessarily mean giving up the pet, but:

  • Reducing the dander that is shed through bathing the pet more often and using quality products that don't cause dry skin
  • Getting rid of the dander in the house, furniture and clothes (cleaning and washing)
  • Reducing the number of items that typically draw together a lot of pet dander (i.e., pillows or carpets)