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What Is Pet Dander?

Allergies to pets are very common in the UK as nearly half of the nation’s households have a furry friend. Similar to dandruff, pet dander is the dead skin cells which animals naturally shed from their bodies.

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Like humans, the flakes of skin that your pet sheds from its scalp are known as dandruff. The flakes of skin are known as ‘triggers’ which can cause some people an allergic reaction. Generally, pet dander is worse in older animals because they shed more dead skin cells than younger animals.

Pet dander contributes to indoor air pollution just like dust mites or tobacco smoke. Poor indoor air quality can be detrimental to your health and can lead to respiratory conditions such as asthma.The most common are dog allergens and cat allergies as they are the most common furry pet we tend to own. 

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Four main cat allergens have been identified and studied. The two main ones are Fel d1 and Fel d4 (Fel stands for Felis – the scientific name for a cat). Fel d1 is found in a cat's sweat and Fel d4 in its saliva. The minor allergens are Fel d2 and Fel d3 found elsewhere such as urine.

The two main dog allergens are Can f1 and Can f2 which are found in dog saliva. Can stands for Canis the scientific name for a dog. What’s more, both dogs and cats can suffer from skin problems which can cause them irritation and dry skin making them shed an even larger quantity of dry skin.

There are other allergens or ‘triggers’ from pets not caused by pet dander, for example, proteins from an animal’s saliva or urine. It has been said that certain breeds of dogs are worse for pet dander than others, for example bulldogs and Saint Bernards as they are quite slobbery.

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What Are The Symptoms Of Pet Dander?

Pet dander is microscopic, and as gross as it sounds, once airborne it’s in the air we breathe. People who are allergic to pet dander often suffer from horrible reaction with symptoms including;

  • Itchy eyes
  • Sneezing
  • Nasal congestion
  • Wheezing

People who suffer from other allergies and asthma are vulnerable to pet allergies. Pet allergens can be persistent and they can be detected in homes where pets have not lived for many years. When you suffer with an allergy your immune system (the body's natural defence) responds as if it were being attacked by a virus. These symptoms are similar to those for allergic rhinitis so it would be advisable that you look into allergy testing if you think you may have an allergy. 

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How To Reduce Allergies From Pet Dander

Light weight and small, pet allergens remain in the air for a long time and thanks to their diminutive size and jagged shape, they easily stick to bedding, fabrics and furniture.

The following may help to reduce the risk:

  • Laminated or hardwood floors instead of carpets. 
  • Replace curtains with blinds.
  • Regularly use vacuum cleaners.
  • Make areas such as bedrooms ‘pet free zones’.
  • Always wash your hands after stroking your pet.
  • Regularly clean the rooms where the pet sleeps.
  • Keep your home well-ventilated and do not allow dust to gather.
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If you do suffer from asthma or allergies such as pet dander then it is worth investing in a whole house ventilation system which will bring in a constant flow of fresh, filtered, clean air into your home and reduce the allergens that are found in the air.

By reducing the allergens in the air you will notice a decrease in allergy symptoms. Installing a whole house ventilation system will also; eliminates condensation, prevents mould, reduces radon levels and alleviates asthma symptoms. 

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