This is a tough area. Pets are important as companions. They help develop responsibility and help express emotion. This is a highly emotionally charged area. What do you do with the pet and the pet allergic person? What do you do about getting a pet for a child who has other allergies?
The allergens are the dander - very small skin scales from the animal, not the length of the hair. In cats, the allergen can be found in the saliva of the animal and in rodents it is a protein in the urine. Hair - long or short can collect dust, pollens and spores and can also act as an irritant.
Cats: Our most common pet
- Differences among major breeds for allergens has not been defined.
- A particular cat may shed allergens in different amounts at different times.
- Male cats will shed more than females.
- Cat washing was thought to work, but may make no difference
- Sprays - may work
- Removal - may take 20 weeks of regular cleaning to fully remove last traces of cat
- Is it the cat or not? Skin tests help to identify sensitivity and a trial of patient removal from the environment - may show that symptoms go away when the patient is at a cat-free place for a while.
- In 1980 a scientific study put to rest the "Dogmatic" statement concerning the existence of a hypoallergenic, non-shedding (of hair) breed. It is a dander - skin scale issue, not a hair issue!
Others: Cattle and Horse Allergens can be found in:
- Rug pads
- Chair stuffing
- Found in pillows, mattresses, rugs, waterproof fibers, cashmere, and mohair.
- There is a question regarding the allergens of fresh feathers. Old feathers are allergens.
- Droppings - source of bacteria, mold.
Best Pet: No Pet
However, if you need something, consider:
- Fish - the tank however may be a mold source
The last question deals with what to do about considering getting a pet and there is someone in the house who has other allergies. Remember - it takes exposure in a person prone to develop allergy to become allergic. Sensitization may occur with exposure; the person may not be allergic now, but may become allergic, then what do you do?