Cat and Dog Dander Allergies

dogs and cats

Allergic reactions from dander are caused from the proteins found in the animal’s dandruff, urine, and saliva. These allergens collect on the animal’s fur. The animal sheds the fur normally and through grooming and petting, and the allergens become airborne, adhering to other items in house, and eventually becoming part of normal house dust. Cat dander is by far the most pervasive.

Cats and dogs are the most common sources of the allergens that cause reactions, however, all animals with fur can cause reactions. Birds, hamster, rabbits, horses, cows, etc., all have the potential to cause allergic reactions as well.

Although animal fur itself is not considered to be a very significant allergy-causing element, the animal’s fur can act as a nesting ground to allergy causing elements such as dust mites, pollen, household dust and other allergens.

Deep piled materials such as carpeting and upholstered furniture create reservoirs for pet dander. Dander particles that have become airborne stay suspending in the air for long periods of time. Eventually the particles settle and adhere themselves to items such as clothing, walls, furniture, and carpeting. Dander from those items can be transferred to other items just by contact. For example, if a couch has dander on it, the dander can transfer onto your clothes when you sit down on the couch.

Even if you yourself do not own any pets, you can still come in contact with “second-hand” dander when around other pet owners. Pet owners can have the dander on their clothing and transfer the dander to your clothing, furniture, etc. when visiting.

Keep in mind that allergic reactions to pet dander do not necessarily occur immediately. Reactions can build up over time and surface up to 12 hours after a person’s initial exposure. Also, because pet dander eventually becomes part of regular house dust allergic reactions can continue to occur for months after the animal has been removed from the home.