Pet Dander Allergy

It is estimated that 10% of the entire population has a pet dander allergy. Even so, 70% of households in the US have a pet.

How can you tell if you have a pet allergy?

Well symptoms of a pet allergy are:

  • watery eyes
  • coughing
  • sneezing
  • headaches
  • sore throat
  • sinus pain
  • itchy skin or hives
  • runny or stuffy nose
  • shortness of breath
  • wheezing

What Causes a Pet Dander Allergy?

Cat, Dog, Rabbit, Hamster

People with pet dander allergies are not allergic to an animals fur, but to a protein found in

  • dander (dead skin flakes)
  • saliva
  • urine

This microscopic protein in the the dander, saliva, or urine becomes airborne. When this protein is inhaled it causes an allergy attack.

What Animals can Cause Allergies?

In short, all furry animals can cause this allergy.

  • Cats

    The one who gets the most blame is the cat. If you have a cat allergy, symptoms are the same as what read above. Cat dander is responsible for many allergic reactions.

  • Dogs

    People are also allergic to dog dander. Not as many people experience dog allergy symptoms. However, there is more dog dander in the air because dogs scratch themselves more. So if you are allergic to dog dander, you will be exposed to more of it.

  • Other Animals

    People also have allergic reactions to rabbits, mice, hamsters, and guinea pigs. With these animals the biggest source of allergens is their saliva and urine. When it dries, it becomes airborne and it floats all through our houses.

    Birds have mites, pollen, and mold on their feathers. This will also cause allergic reactions in some people.

What Happens in Your Body?

Our bodies have a great immune system that protects us from all different kinds of bad stuff. It makes antibodies that protect us from germs, bacteria, and viruses.

If you have a pet dander allergy, your body thinks the pet dander is harmful to you. It produces antibodies to protect you from the dander.

Unfortunately, once you have developed an allergy to pet dander, it never goes away. As of now there is no cure for an allergy.

What Can You Do?

If you or someone you love has a pet dander allergy, what can you do to reduce or prevent allergic reactions?

Well the most effective way to prevent an allergic reaction to cat dander, dog dander, or other pet by-product is to get rid of the pet. Sometimes people can't or don't want to get rid of their pet.

And even if you get rid of your pet, you can be exposed to pet dander on other people's clothes.

What can we do in these situations?

Prevention and Treatments


  • There are many medicines available both by prescription and over the counter. These will help to lessen the symptoms of your allergy. Here are three common types of medicines.

    1. Antihistamines: These relieve itching, sneezing, and a runny nose.
    2. Corticosteroids: These are nose sprays that control inflammation.
    3. Decongestants: These help relax the air passages in your nose, throat, and lungs to make it easier to breathe.

Long Term Treatments

  • There are some treatments available to help reduce the effect of a pet dander allergy.

    1. Nasal Washes: These use saltwater to wash out your nasal passages.
    2. Immunotherapy: These are allergy shots. Your body is desensitized to allergens by taking shots once or twice a week. Over time your body will react less and less to allergens.

Life Style Changes

If you do get rid of your pet, you should follow as many of these steps as possible to remove as much pet dander as possible.

  1. Clean you entire house from top to bottom. This means wash the walls and ceiling, too.

  2. Replace upholstered furniture if possible. It will be impossible to clean all the dander from them.

  3. Replace carpets if possible. Once again cleaning will not remove all the dander.

  4. Replace all bedding. Get new sheets, blankets, and pillows.

  5. Replace you mattress if possible. If not cover it with a allergen blocking cover.

  6. Use HEPA air filters. Use either a whole house or room air purifier. The best vacuum cleaners use HEPA filters. Be sure to use one in your vacuum cleaner.

If you don't get rid of your pet, you should follow as many of these steps as possible.

  1. Bathe your pet frequently. At least once a week. Use a shampoo for pet allergies.

  2. Have a pet free area in your house. Probably your bedroom.

  3. Replace carpet with another kind of flooring.

  4. Replace upholstered furniture. (Go ahead and buy all leather:) )

  5. Regularly clean the litter box or the pet cage.

  6. Keep your pet outside.

  7. Use HEPA air filters. Use either a whole house or room air purifiers. Also use HEPA filters in your vacuum cleaners.


Woman with a Cat and Dog

Having a pet allergy is not the end of the world. It does not even mean that you have to get rid of you pets. Many people find a way to control their pet dander allergy and still enjoy the company of their beloved pet.

Follow some of the steps list above and you can enjoy fewer allergy symptoms.

One of the best things you can do is to use HEPA filters in you air purifiers and vacuum cleaners. We recommend the Austin Air Pet Machine. It is one of the best air filters to help you breathe easier.

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