Allergy Basics

Allergic Rhinitis: Pet allergies

While cats, dogs, and other pets are much more cute and cuddly than dust mites and cockroaches, they also produce allergens, most notably those found in their dander (flaky, dead skin cells) and saliva. Cats, with their predilection for primping, spread the allergen from their saliva to their fur.

Once dried, it flakes off and becomes airborne. Cat allergen particles are small and can stay airborne for several hours. Not only do they love air travel, but these allergens will happily travel overland.

Their sticky nature helps them cling to clothing, transporting them to homes and offices where a cat has never set down a paw. The urine of female cats and rodents is also allergenic. Allergies to dogs are less common and typically less intense than those to cats, but dog saliva and dander contain allergens, too. Although dogs don't groom as readily as cats, many are happy to lick their human companions, often provoking a reaction.

Birds, gerbils, mice, guinea pigs, rats, rabbits, and horses can all cause allergic reactions in sensitive individuals. However, amphibians and reptiles aren't allergenic.

And fish seem to be relatively free of allergens, as they don't shed in our living room. However, be wary of mold spores growing around the fish tank.

Many airborne substances can trigger allergic rhinitis, including mold spores, dust-mite droppings, cockroach leavings, and animal dander. Now that you have a solid understanding of this allergy type, it's time to look at a few other types of allergies. In the next section we will review allergic asthma.

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