What Is Pet Dander and How Do You Get Rid of It?

What Is Pet Dander and How Do You Get Rid of It?

Have you ever wondered why you're sneezing and wheezing whenever you're around your precious pets? It's not their fault, it's the pesky pet dander!

What Is Pet Dander?

Pet dander is very tiny particles of skin that had been shed from animals with fur or feathers.

All animals shed bits of skin. Some of the bits are large enough to be seen with our eyes. Other bits are so small you can’t see them without a microscope. No matter the size of the dander, it is a problem if you are allergic to animals. 

The dander from cats, dogs, rabbits, ferrets, and small rodents is the most common source of a pet allergy, but people can also be allergic to the proteins that are present in pet saliva, urine and feces.

Dander contains a protein that causes allergic reactions.

Why Pet Dander Cause Allergic Reactions?

Dander contains a protein that causes allergic reactions. For people with allergies, pet dander is a real problem.  

Allergic reactions to pet dander can vary in severity and symptoms, but some common symptoms include:

  • Sneezing
  • Runny or stuffy nose
  • Itchy, red, or watery eyes
  • Itchy skin or rash
  • Coughing
  • Shortness of breath
  • Wheezing
  • Chest tightness

When you inhale these tiny dander particles of skin, skin + urine, or skin + saliva your immune system thinks it is under attack by germs.

People allergic to pet dander, their immune system misidentifies these harmless proteins as evil invaders. It creates a specific antibody for the protein. The next time it sees the protein, it cues the antibody to start stimulating mast cells.

Dander protein is also found in the urine of your pet

The protein found in dander is not just on the fur, the protein is also found in the urine of your pets as well. So, every time the animal empties it’s bladder the protein from the urine can stick to the skin.

Even if you take your dog outside and down the street to do its business, you are going to bring some of that allergen back inside in the form of tiny droplets of urine that touch the skin.

Once that bit of skin is shed, it has a double dose of the protein that causes the allergic reaction. Dose one is the skin itself and dose two is the protein from the urine.

First, brush your pet regularly to remove dander, dead skin cells and fur.

How Do You Get Rid of Animal Dander?

If pet dander is so easily spread, how do you get rid of it? Get rid of or reduce pet dander by:

  • Grooming to reduce the amount of dander infested fur.
  • Vacuuming frequently.
  • Using a HEPA air filter (Austin Air makes an air purifier just for pets)
  • Use anti-allergen sprays.
  • Limit where the pet goes.

First, brush your pet regularly to remove dander, dead skin cells and fur. Ideally, brush the pet outside. If you are highly allergic, wear a mask while you groom the pet.

Resist the temptation to frequently wash your pet. The more you wash, the greater the chances you will dry out the animal’s skin. Dry skin flakes more easily. 

Vacuum with a HEPA filtered vacuum cleaner to remove dander

If you want to do something frequently, vacuum with a HEPA filtered vacuum cleaner. Vacuum thoroughly. This is where a canister-style vacuum cleaner comes in handy. Vacuum walls, floors, carpets, rugs, furniture, and draperies.

Many pet owners find relief from allergies by running a HEPA air cleaner. Run the air cleaner in the room where you and the pet spend the most time. 

Pet dander denaturing agents are available in spray and powder form. Anti-allergen sprays are easy to use and when used properly are very effective.

Now for the really hard part. Keep the pet out of the bedroom and especially off the bed. You don’t want your bed covered in dander. You sleep 8 hours every night, make sure you sleep in a dander-free zone.

Pet Dander - Keep the pet out of the bedroom and especially off the bed.

In addition, wash dog toys frequently to remove dried saliva, a source of allergen. Cat owners should wear a mask when cleaning the cat box as the urine is rich in allergy-causing protein. 

So now you know what pet dander is and how to get rid of it. See, with a little work, you can live with pets and pet allergy. 

Wishing you the best of health

The Allergy Store 

According to the National Institute of Environmental Health Sciences (NIH) Millions of Americans live with pets despite being allergic to them. Any furry animal, most cats and dogs, may trigger allergy symptoms like sneezing or red, itchy eyes. Pet allergies can also make asthma harder to control.