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what to do when your immune system hates you

What is pet dander?


pet dander happens
Allergies affect millions of people every year in the United States. A large number of these are related to pets, with cats and dogs being the biggest offenders. This presents a dilemma because a majority of households have at least one of these animals, and many have more than one. Pets are a huge part of many families, but for those with an allergy, it can be difficult living under the same roof with a pet. While many symptoms are not severe, they can be quite difficult to live with. What triggers an allergic reaction in humans, though?

Dander: the underlying cause of pet allergies

Cat allergies

Cat allergies are caused when a person's body comes into contact with a specific protein found in the cat's dander or saliva. This protein called "Fel d 1" can easily become absorbed by the allergic person's body. This almost immediately triggers an immune response. The most common symptoms include:

Those individuals with severe allergies will start to experience some or all of these symptoms almost immediately upon entering the house, even if the cat is nowhere to be found. Compounding this problem is the fact that allergies are cumulative in nature. If you are suffering from one allergy then your chances are greater that you will have another one as well. This can compound any reaction and make it more severe than if it was just a single allergen causing the issue.

Dog allergies

A dog allergy is not as common as the feline variety. One big reason for this is dogs tend to be bathed much more frequently than cats, which can be a big help in cutting reducing the dander being shed from their bodies. Contrary to popular belief, the allergen is not found in the dog's hair or skin but rather in their saliva. Many times a quick kiss from your furry friend is all it takes to set off a reaction. Once their saliva comes into contact with the skin it will be quickly absorbed into the body. The immune system will view the saliva antigens as foreign invaders and set out to eradicate them, resulting in the troublesome symptoms that allergy sufferers are so familiar with.

How to reduce dander in the home

While most of us really do love our pets, the dander found on their bodies can cause all kinds of problems for those with asthma or allergies. Anything you can do to reduce pet dander will really help yourself if you are allergic, but also any allergic guests who might visit.

The most important thing is vacuum your carpets on a regular basis. Make sure your vacuum cleaner has a high quality HEPA filter, as this is responsible for removing the microscopic allergens that a standard filter cannot handle.

Wash your hard floors (wood, tile, and concrete) as often as possible to remove any dander that has settled on them. If your pet has a favorite sleeping spot make sure you shampoo that as well. This may mean having two pet beds so one can be in the wash regularly.

In addition, try to brush your pet as often as you can. Doing this outside will let their hair safely blow away from your home, but if you are forced to do it inside be sure to vacuum immediately after completely grooming. Most pets love to be groomed anyway, so this shouldn't be a chore for you or your pet. Wear an industrial-grade respirator or half-mask plus goggles while grooming your pet so as not to breathe in any allergens.

Between rounds of pet grooming and house cleaning, an air purifier will help to maintain good air quality for those allergic to pet dander. Choose an air purifier designed to handle the square footage that needs cleaning.

The key to living with pets while allergic is understanding what allergens are present, where they come from, and how to keep them under control. The alternative is getting rid of your cat or dog, which is not something that most pet owners want to consider.

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