Controlling Allergens: Animals

Controlling Allergens: Animals

Constant exposure to allergens means constant allergy symptoms. That’s why controlling or avoiding the allergens that cause your symptoms is an important part of your treatment. If you are allergic to animals, the tips below may help. The more you do to keep all allergens away from your nose, the better you’ll feel.

Boy holding goldfish in bowl on lap.
If fur or feathers cause allergies, a fish can be a good pet choice.

Animal and Pet Allergies

Many people think that pet allergy is caused by the fur of cats and dogs. But researchers have found that the major allergens are proteins made by oil glands in the animals’ skin. These proteins are shed in flakes of skin called dander. Allergy-causing proteins in saliva stick to the fur when the animal cleans itself. And urine contains allergy-causing proteins. Cats tend to be more likely than dogs to cause allergic reactions—this may be because they lick themselves more, may be held more, and may spend more time indoors. Rodents, such as guinea pigs, mice, and rats can also cause allergies.

Controlling Animal Allergens

The best way to avoid animal allergens is not to have a pet. If you already have a pet and can’t bear to part with it, try to reduce your exposure as much as possible. These tips may help:

  • Whenever possible, keep pets outdoors. Never let pets into your bedroom.

  • Use an air-cleaning unit with a HEPA filter—especially in the bedroom.

  • Wash your hands after you touch a pet, and try to keep pets away from your face.

  • Bathing pets weekly may help cut down on the allergens they make. Bathing also washes saliva, dust, mold, and pollen off the animal’s fur.