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Pets & Animals

Many people think animal allergies are caused by the fur or feathers of their pet. In fact, allergies are actually aggrevated by:

  • proteins secreted by oil glands and shed as dander
  • proteins in saliva (which stick to fur when animals lick themselves)
  • aerosolized urine from rodents and guinea pigs

Keep in mind that you can sneeze with and without your pet being present. Although an animal may be out of sight, their allergens are not. This is because pet allergens are carried on very small particles. As a result pet allergens can remain circulatlng in the air and remain on carpets and furniture for weeks and months after a pet is gone. Allergens may also be present in public buildings, schools, etc. where there are no pets.

Preventive Strategies

  • Remove pets from your home if possible.
  • If pet removal is not possible, keep them out of bedrooms and confined to areas without carpets or upholstered furniture.
  • If possible, bathe pets weekly to reduce the amount of allergens.
  • Wear a dust mask and gloves when near rodents.
  • After playing with your pet, wash your hands and clean your clothes to remove pet allergens.
  • Avoid contact with soiled litter cages.
  • Dust often with a damp cloth.

For further information about asthma, contact:
National Institute of Environmental Health Sciences
Office of Communications
P.O. Box 12233
Research Triangle Park, N.C. 27709
(919) 541-3345 Department of Health & Human Services National Institutes of Health
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Last Reviewed: March 15, 2007