Are You Allergic to Pet Dander?

If you suspect you may be allergic to something in your environment, you could be allergic to pet dander. If you have pets or you're in environments where pets are, you can develop an allergy to the dander they shed.

Pet Dander Allergies

Pet dander allergies are common and are due to a protein present in the dead skin cells shed by cats and dogs. This glycoprotein stimulates the immune system and certain sensitive people will develop a negative reaction. The immune system will produce histamines or inflammatory cells, which lead to a number of symptoms.

Symptoms of Pet Dander Allergies

Pet dander allergies will be signaled by a number of symptoms, triggered by the presence of histamines in the body. Watch out for symptoms such as:

  • Sneezing
  • Stuffed nose
  • Nasal and ocular discharges
  • Coughing
  • Difficult time breathing
  • Swelling of fingers
  • Skin itchiness
  • Dermatitis

These symptoms may be more or less severe, depending on how you react to the pet dander. These same signs can point to a different type of allergies (such as inhalant allergies). Skin or blood tests will be needed to establish if you are indeed allergic to pet dander. However, there are also other indicators that you may be allergic to pet dander.

Symptoms after Playing with Pets

If you are allergic to pet dander, the symptoms may be visible within 30 minutes after the exposure to pets. The dander can get in the air and you can inhale it. You may also come in contact with pet dander if you touch your face or eyes with your hands, which can have pet dander on them.

Prevent Pet Dander Allergies

There are a few means by which you can prevent or reduce pet dander allergies:

  • Stay away from pets and environments that may have pet dander; this is a 100-percent effective solution.
  • Wash your hands after patting a pet; don't touch your face before washing your hands.
  • Clean your pet's skin regularly, to reduce the dander accumulated in the home.
  • Change the dog's diet and increase the amount of fatty acids, which support the health of the skin and reduce the amount of dander.
  • Keep your pet's skin moisturized, especially during winter time, when the skin tends to be dry.
  • Vacuum several times per week to get rid of possible dander deposits from your home.
  • Sleep in a room where the pet doesn't have access to, so you won't have to inhale the dander during sleep.

Treatment of Pet Dander Allergies

Pet dander allergies don't have a cure, but may be alleviated with a few solutions:

  • Antihistamines, stopping the production of histamines that are responsible for the production of dander allergy symptoms.
  • Oral steroids or steroid creams, which can reduce swelling and skin symptoms.
  • Allergy shots, which are effective if administered for at least 6 months and may improve the condition in time, reducing the intensity of allergic reactions.