Recognizing the main animal allergens

There are many different types of allergens caused by pets. These allergens are inhaled into a persons lungs and cause asthmatic or allergic reactions, which can be quite extreme in some cases. These are caused due to the following:

  • Discharge from the sebaceous glands of the skin, which are on the base of the follicles of hair, which is an oily substance that keeps the pets skin supple. This is spread through the hairs inside the follicles and then surfaces up to the skin along the hair shaft.
  • Saliva that is spread onto the pet's skin and hair when it licks or cleans itself.
  • Secretions that are left on the pet's hair when the animal urinates. This is more common in animals with long hair.

These allergens are all liquid proteins that are infinitesimal and so much so they are able to remain in the air for long amounts of time. Another thing to keep in mind is the amount of dander the animal has. Dander is small particles that shed continuously from the animal's skin. It sort of looks like the dead skin that comes from a person's skin or head except they are much smaller in size.

Keep in mind though; that the actual hair of the pet is not what causes the allergens, the hair of the pet only serves as a transporter. The sebaceous gland, urinary, and salivary allergens that dries on the animal's hair, is what then flakes off into the home or environment. This also occurs when an animal's hair is brushed, when they shake, wag their tails, jump on the couches and furniture, play, run around, rub up against something etc.

Unfortunately, these allergens, especially in the case of cats, are almost invisible to the human eye due to how small they are. These allergens are virtually weightless and they can travel though out the air within the house for long amounts of time before actually falling all over the furniture, carpets, walls, fabrics, air conditioners, heating ducts etc. Once these allergens have settled, one movement will lift them back up into the environment again.

The longer a pet lives in the house, the more its allergens will spread. There are many pet owners that sleep with their pets and this obviously increases the amount of exposure to these allergens. Having a pet sleep in a different room will lower somewhat the exposure to these allergens but only somewhat. A pet that lives inside the home will still have access to other parts of the house and when the owner sits on the couch, or opens the curtains etc, his clothes will become permeated with them, therefore repeating the whole cycle. For all this, we are not in any way trying to say that the solution is in keeping your pet outside. Although it would definitely make a difference, the truth is that any contact you have with your pet will still cause you to pick up those allergens.

Allergic! Animals & Allergies Allergens Dog-Cat Allergens