Cat Allergy

h-allergiesWhen a patient has a pet allergy, he or she is actually allergic to the pet’s dander rather than the fur. Pet dander is comprised of microscopic particles of skin that are sloughed off by any furry or feathery animal. Common household pets that can trigger a pet allergy are birds, cats, dogs and rodents such as hamsters, gerbils, rabbits, ferrets, etc. Some people are also allergic to horses, but this allergy is less common mostly because of the limited exposure to horses.

Along with skin particles, certain proteins produced by pets can cause allergies. The feline protein that causes allergic reactions is the Fel d 1 protein, and the canine protein that causes allergies are the Can f 1 and Can f 2 proteins. These proteins are found in pets’ saliva, urine and feces.

Pet dander and allergen proteins are spread throughout the household via the air. Once they are airborne, they can land and cling to carpet, furniture, curtains and bedding.

If you or a family member suffers from a pet allergy, here are some helpful tips to reduce allergic reactions:

  • If you can, remove all pets from your house.
  • If you can’t, keep them in areas without carpet or upholstered furniture.
  • Wash your pet’s bedding in hot water every 7-10 days.
  • Keep pets out of bedrooms.
  • Dust on a regular basis using a damp cloth.
  • Wash your clothes and hands after playing with pets to remove pet allergens.
  • If you are allergic to birds, it is important to stay away from down comforters and pillows.
  • If you are allergic to rodents, be sure to check certain clothing items for the use of rabbit fur. Angora rabbit fur is commonly found on fur coats, gloves, sweaters and muffs.
  • If you are allergic to rodents (mice, guinea pigs, hamsters, etc.) and are close to any of them, wear gloves and a dust mask.

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