Allergy to animals is very common and can make other allergies worse.
Pets are a major source of allergens. Although the allergens are not in the animalsâ€™ fur (contrary to what many people think), their coats can be very good “transporters” of allergens.
Some sources of animal allergens are:
- saliva (dog, cat, horse, etc.)
- urine (cat, dog, small laboratory animals, etc.)
- serum (= part of the blood)
- scales (= dead skin debris)
- epithelium (= skin)
- excrement (parrot, pigeon, etc.)
Exposure to animal allergens usually occurs through breathing in particles of dust containing the allergens. The commonest are from cats, the most potent from horses and small rodents.
Cats are more likely to provoke an allergic reaction than any other domestic animal. The allergen occurs in their skin and becomes widespread in homes containing cats. It can be carried into a house without a cat on the clothing of people who have visited a house where there is one. Cat allergen can be found in a house even many months after the cat is no longer there.
People allergic to dogs are allergic to all dogs, long- or short-haired. “Short coats” are as highly allergenic as “long coats”!
Allergy to birds is often indirect. People are hardly ever allergic to the birdâ€™s feathers, but rather to the microscopic mites that live in them.
Allergy to animals is expressed (comes out) mainly as asthma, rhinitis, conjunctivitis, and sometimes eczema. Most people are sensitised by contact with their own pet. However, occasional contact with other animals can also trigger an allergy. It is therefore not a good idea to keep animals such as hamsters, guinea pigs, rabbits or mice in schools. Contact with these animals can sensitise young
The initial “treatment” is to evict the allergen. This is not always easy because removing the culprit animal could cause considerable stress. But a choice must be made: your pet or your health.
At the very least the pet should be excluded from the bedroom. The amount of allergen can be reduced by regularly washing the animal (weekly).
Even if the culprit animal has been removed, you may still suffer attacks for 1-3 months after. This is because even with the animal gone, its allergens could still linger in the furniture, carpets, curtains, etc.
The only solution is a thorough cleaning.