Throughout the years, there has been a close connection between humans and animals both at work and in domestic life. Nevertheless, contact to animals unavoidably results to exposure to the animal allergens. With this in mind, pets have been the main cause of allergies in some individuals.
Dog and cat allergy
It is important to note that dog and cat allergens are present in the urine, saliva and sweat. Animals frequently groom themselves, thus the allergens coat the hair and skin cells. Once these are shed, they spread throughout the house. In addition, once saliva dries up, it becomes airborne quickly.
The allergens are always present in the environment even in areas where there are no pets for many years. Despite popular belief, all dogs possess an allergenic material that is known to trigger allergic reactions. Even the breeds that are labelled as “hairless” still have allergens present in dander from skin sources. It is also possible that those who have longer hair might possess other allergens such as pollen, dust mite and mold in which an individual might be sensitive to.
If a child during his/her first year of life has been exposed to cats, it is considered as a vital factor in the development of sensitization to this allergen. In studies conducted, it revealed that children who grew up in houses with pets have more severe symptoms than those in houses without pets. In another study, it showed that there is a protective effect from growing up with pets. Nevertheless, those who have hay fever, eczema or asthma are advised to avoid any pets even if there is no apparent allergy to them at the present.
Reducing dog and cat allergens
Dogs who receive proper grooming preferably outdoors has greatly reduced the shedding of hair and can even minimize the risk for skin irritation and secondary bacterial infection. The grooming should be performed by another individual.
Bathing a cat 1-2 times in a week can minimize the amount of cat allergens. Confining a cat to one area of the house is not effective since people will transfer the allergens to other parts of the house on their clothes while moving from one room to another.
Rabbits, caged birds and small rodents are popular pets. Guinea pigs and rabbits are typically housed outdoors while hamsters, gerbils, rats, mice and birds are kept inside in the living room or even in the bedroom.
These animals particularly hamsters and budgerigars are often linked with allergic asthma. Among small animals, the urine is the potent source of allergens and the materials that line the cages are heavily contaminated.
The allergenic chemicals are released into the air as the animal moves around the cage. Since most of these are nocturnal creatures, activity such as racing around the cage and wheel causes the release of allergens into the air.
The fine dust in the air from bird droppings and feathers is not only linked with allergy but can cause a serious condition known as “Bird Fancier’s Lung” that results to lasting scarring of the lungs.