What you should know about Animal Dander

What is animal dander?
Animal dander is not the hair or fur of the animal, but is old skin scales which are constantly shed. Older animals produce more dander than young ones because their skin is drier. Animal dander is extremely light weight and tiny in size, (approx. 2.5 microns) and can stay airborne for hours. (1 micron = 1/25,000 in.)

Are skin flakes the only source of animal allergens?
No, the primary cat allergen, Felis domesticus allergen I, is a glycoprotein found in the sebaceous glands of the cat's hair roots and in their sublingual salivary glands. It is also present in the urine of male cats.

How does animal dander become airborne?
During grooming the allergen from the sebaceous glands is deposited with the saliva on the cat's fur. When it dries, it flakes off and is released into the air.
Why do I have symptoms even when I am not near the cat?
Cat dander sticks to our clothing and personal belongings and is easily transported wherever we go. This is why cat dander has been found in schools and offices where an animal has never lived. Its ability to remain airborne and to permeate every area of the house makes it extremely hard to control.

Can birds produce dander?
Yes, birds produce a feather dust which can cause allergic reactions. The larger the bird the more dander is produced.

What about rabbits and guinea pigs?
Any furred or feathered animal is a potential source of animal allergens. The saliva and urine contain the proteins that cause reactions.

What are ways to reduce my exposure to animal dander?

  1. Remove the pet from the house and then clean ALL surfaces thoroughly with a damp cloth or mop.
  2. Use a vacuum cleaner with a High Efficiency Air Filter to trap the tiny particles of animal allergen. The water vacuums are not effective on animal dander. Studies have show they actually increase dander levels when in use.
  3. Bathe the animal weekly with Allerpet, a shampoo/ conditioner. Studies have shown this product can decrease the amount of dander in settled dust by nearly 50% It is available for cats, dogs, and birds.
  4. If the pet can't be removed from the house, at least keep it out of your bedroom.
  5. Use a room air purifier in your bedroom to remove airborne animal dander.
  6. Wear a mask when grooming your pet.
  7. Keep clothing worn when playing with the pet out of your bedroom.