There are over 10 million pet dogs, cats, birds, rabbits, hamsters, gerbils, guinea-pigs, chinchillas and rats found in 1 in 2 homes.
Unfortunately, these cuddly little animals that most of us love so much, are very allergenic to sensitive people.
Allergies to animals is not caused by their hair, short or long, but by their urine, saliva and sebaceous gland secretions. While licking themselves, they deposit their allergens on their hair, which in turn causes allergic reactions to some of those who touch or approach them. Their allergens accumulate on rugs, fitted carpets, hangings, and clothing, which they touch.
As a result you can find animal allergens for several months, even years after they have gone.
CONTROVERSY: Several recent studies seem to show that even avoiding pets in the home, do not prevent people from developing allergies to animals. Allergy specialists form their opinion that it is down to each individual. The decision to have an animal depends on many factors, such as how allergic you are and what symptoms you get when in contact with your pet / chosen animal.
Before having an animal at home, talk to your doctor or your allergy specialist, especially if you have a hereditary allergic background or if you have other allergies.
- Asthma and or rhinitis are the most common symptoms associated with allergy to cats.
- Being sensitive or allergic to cats may predispose a person to asthma.
- Where allergy symptoms are persistent the removal of the cat is the surest means of prevention. However, it must always be discussed as it can cause a lot of upset and possible problems, especially with children.
- It goes without saying that an allergy to cats usually remains regardless if a pet is kept or not. Symptoms can occurs whenever in contact with a cat.
- An allergy to animals is not dependent on its race, breed, colour, fur type including length.
The appearance of symptoms can be observed several months, even several years after the first contact with a cat. People showing symptoms all of a sudden when they have lived for several years with their cat find it difficult to admit that the cat is the cause of their allergic reaction.
Cat cross-reactive allergies
Cat cross-reactive allergies concern: dogs, horses, felines and pigs.
How to reduce your cat allergy
Some advice may help decrease the amount of allergens.
- Keeping away from the animal remains the best solution.
- Washing the cat once a week remains one of the best techniques, however it is unpleasant for the cat, you the owner and difficult to keep up.
- Wipe / rub down the animal with a wet towel , 2 to 4 times a week.
- Clean out the litter regularly
- Do not allow your cat to access the bedroom , even in the absence of the allergic person.
- Isolate its litter in a wall cupboard, a corner or a balcony.
- Frequently vacuum your home and your mattresses and pillows.
- Ventilate the home regularly.
- Regularly wash the entire family's clothing and especially that of the person allergic to cats.
Their saliva is less allergenic than that of cats.
More and more people, in particular children, develop allergic reactions to their rodent pets. Hamsters, guinea-pigs, mice, hedgehogs, chinchillas and rats, can all cause debilitating allergic reactions.
- The allergenic capacity of these rodents is very high, causing sometimes severe symptoms.
- The urine of these animals, once dry, infests the ambient air with allergenic proteins that can be inhaled and cause allergic symptoms.
FACT: 3 to 20% of laboratory personnel are allergic to animals which they deal with on a daily basis.
Horses and ponies
Horses can cause allergic symptoms, sometimes severe ones, such as acute asthmic attacks. An allergic person can develop symptoms without being in direct contact with a horse. Being close by to a stud farm can be enough to cause allergic symptoms, or simple contact with a horse rider can be enough.
Several thousands of people work in contact with laboratory animals. But the ineffective ventilation of these buildings increases the dissemination of their allergens and is likely to sensitise those who handle them daily.
Male urine seems to contain less allergenic proteins than female urine. If you are concerned with this allergy, try to work if at all possible, with the former.
Bird feathers are seldom allergenic, but they host many allergens, in particular dust mites. Bird dejections transform into dust when they dry up and cause allergic symptoms if inhaled.