AchooAllergy.com Blog

Pet Dander


Posted by Rachel P. on Friday, February 21, 2014
Celebrities & AllergiesMany people tend to idealize sports figures and celebrities, but like the occasional photos in your local supermarket tabloid show, they have problems and deal with everyday challenges just like the rest of us. This Friday I’m giving a spotlight on a few celebrities who need to watch out for certain foods, animals and other allergens.

Halle Berry is one of the seven million people who cannot enjoy shrimp cocktails or a romantic lobster dinner, or any mollusks because of her shellfish allergy. Luckily this doesn't include Swordfish! Shellfish allergy symptoms can include hives, itching, swelling of the lips, face, tongue throat, or any body part, trouble breathing, stomach pain, dizziness, and even anaphylaxis. Unfortunately, many do not know they are allergic until they are adults.

Quirky Zooey Deschanel can only have oatmeal with almond milk for breakfast. Well, that’s what I would serve her, due to her lactose intolerance, celiac disease and egg allergy. Lactose intolerance and egg allergies can be hard on the digestive tract while celiac disease leads to the inability to absorb sufficient amounts of calcium and iron often leading to osteoporosis and anemia.

Let’s be grateful that Kim Kardashian is not allergic to latex. That would cut her wardrobe in half! However, she is allergic to cats. Approximately 10 million people are allergic to cats, making this the most common pet allergy in the U.S. What makes Kimmie sneeze and sniff is not the cat hair itself but the protein in the dander of felines.

Bouncing over to the world of sports, Serena Williams does not go to peanuts as a source of protein. Peanut allergies can cause anaphylaxis, wheezing, nausea and itching and tingling in or around the mouth and throat. Almond butter is a great alternative with high amounts of magnesium, iron and calcium.

And last but not least, Miley Cyrus could possibly be allergic to pants. Sadly, she can’t go anywhere that’s not similar to LA weather.

Have a great weekend, and enjoy the weather before another snow storm drifts our way!

Author: Rachel P.

Posted by kevvyg on Tuesday, February 04, 2014
Circassia LTD - SPIRE Treatment - Cat AllergiesThis is a topic we've mentioned before throughout the years and originally back in 2011, a novel treatment for cat allergies that is less invasive, less time consuming and as effective as more traditional allergy shots. British drug maker, Circassia LTD, is currently accepting patients for a phase-three clinical trial with this new treatment. What does this mean for those with cat allergies? Potentially - a lot.

Like traditional allergy shots, the idea behind the treatment is to desensitize people who are allergic to cats. The big difference between this and traditional shots is two-fold. First, the shots are not subcutaneous, meaning they are more shallow and do not go beneath the skin. Second, the length of the proposed treatment would be significantly shorter, four to eight months as opposed to the more traditional three to five years worth of shots. This can not only make the process more convenient but hopefully less costly and invasive.

The current trial is accepting people who have had cat allergies for at least two years, have a cat living at home with them, and are between the ages of 12 and 65. As the largest clinical study of this treatment to date, the CATALYST (Cat Allergy Study) is accepting over 1100 volunteers from seven countries.

For people coping with cat allergies, this could be a dramatic step forward in treatment. Often times allergists recommend removing your cat from the household, and as one of the most common household pets, those with cat allergies often have allergic reactions outside of their own homes. One of the Most Common Household Allergens - Cat DanderCat dander is one of the smallest of common household allergens, and to make matters worse, it's "sticky". This means that in places where cats have been, it's often extremely difficult to remove cat dander since it adheres to walls, furnishings, and flooring, nearly everything in a room. Nearly one in three households have cats. In addition to allergies, there is also a link to asthma reactions and cats, with one study showing over a quarter of asthma attacks being triggered by cat allergen. So, the potential that a shorter, less invasive and successful treatment holds a great deal of hope for the millions with allergies or asthma.

The basis of the treatment is the proprietary ToleroMune technology. Molecules called SPIRES (Synthetic Peptide Immuno-Regulatory Epitopes) generate regulatory T cells. These T cells control the allergic response and stimulate tolerance of specific allergens.

Circassia is also working on a similar treatment for dust mite allergies, and back in September of 2013 they announced results of their phase-two trials. In this study, patients who had received four doses of the treatment over 12 weeks showed significant improvement one year after the start of the trial. This smaller phase-two study will likely in the steps of the cat allergy trials. With success, they will move on to larger, clinical, phase-three trials. In addition dust mites, Circassia has also finished phase-two trials of the same treatment for ragweed and grass allergies.

While we continue to patiently wait and hope, avoidance and more traditional measures, like the use of a high quality HEPA air purifier or antihistamines remain some of the best way to reduce allergic reactions to cat.

For more information on these phase-three clinical trials, contact your local certified allergist or visit the CATALYST website

Author: K. Gilmore

Posted by kevvyg on Friday, November 01, 2013
Pets and Dealing with Pet DanderPets are amazing friends to have in life. These trusted companions can increase serotonin and dopamine levels (the "feel good" neurotransmitters), provide more structure in your daily routine and make you smile more! These are a few of the reasons why there are efforts to pair not only the elderly but also those dealing with severe illness with pets.

For those with pet dander allergies, the relationship with dogs and cats can be bittersweet. Despite the benefits pets can offer, their dander can trigger sneezing, congestion, watery eyes, skin reactions and even asthma attacks. But to better understand this, let’s get microscopic and explore what triggers these allergic reactions. The American Lung Association explains pet dander as a composition of "tiny, even microscopic, flecks of skin shed by cats, dogs, rodents, birds and other animals with fur or feathers." Proteins found in saliva and excretions from cats, dogs and other pets can also cause allergic reactions.

Unfortunately, cats are the largest culprit for protein allergy reactions due to a Fel d I protein they carry. Not only is cat dander some of the smallest, but it's also "sticky," meaning it's difficult to remove. Curiously, female cats produce more Fel d I protein than males, but it's not quite clear why this is. Research from the University of Cambridge has found similarities in Fel d I protein and Der p 2, the dust mite allergen, both of which can promote airway hypersensitivity reactions for asthmatics.

Give Me Up?  I Am Not AmusedSo you've been diagnosed with allergies to dander or you have asthma, now what? Most people aren't willing to give up their pets, and given the strong bonds that people can and do form with their furry friends, this is understandable. There are a few things that you can do to try to limit your exposure to dander and hopefully keep your allergies or asthma in check.
  • Limit where they can roam. Keep your pet out of the bedroom and off of the furniture. Bedrooms can be the single worst place for your pet to be if you're dealing with pet allergies or asthma.
  • Clean as much as you can. This means not only surfaces, but also the air in your home and even your pet itself.
  • Keep up with any medication. Don't skip things like your preventative asthma medication or a doctor prescribed treatment.
The first tip is something you have to dedicate yourself to. Keep doors closed or buy a gate to block certain parts of the house, and for the last tip, consult with your doctor or board certified allergist. In terms of cleaning, there are a variety of household products dedicated for tidying up pet friendly homes and a combination of these can often make a big difference in how you feel.

Bathing your pet regularly with an anti-allergen pet shampoo is a good first step, but too many baths can dry your pet's skin and cause itching and scratching. So between baths Allerpet is a handy solution to pet dander. Allerpet/C gently cleanses your cat's hair of saliva and dander, and can make all the difference for those with allergies.

FURminator Removes Loose Hair and UndercoatCats and dogs all have hair, and pet hair can be the primary vehicle of spreading dander throughout your home. The FURminator deshedding tool is a specially designed shed-less tool for cat and dog owners. FURminator's unique blade is designed to remove loose hair like no other. Dog groomers love this pet brush because it removes undercoat and loose hair from dogs and cats, while leaving the shiny top coat intact and healthy.

Most pets spend at least some time outdoors, and just as their hair can carry dander, it can also pick up outdoor allergens and bring these unwanted guests into your home. This is where Pet Wipes can help. These wipes make it easy to remove dander, pollen, dirt and saliva off your pets. There are couple sizes available, but each pet wipe is stronger and thicker than most others sold today, and one wipe can generally clean your entire dog or cat.

So you tackled the source of the allergens, what about your home? For floors, surfaces and even furniture, a quality vacuum cleaner can make a big difference. With an Active Clean filter, 12 stage filtration, and an array of cleaning attachments, the Miele Cat & Dog vac provides all the tools needed to keep your home clean and free of dander no matter what four-legged friend you have indoors. As with the Cat & Dog upright, the included STB 101 turbobrush comes included in the box and works well on carpeted and upholstered surfaces. With an encased motor and silence insulation, these vacuums are nearly quiet enough let your sleeping dog lie.

Pet Air Purifier - Austin Pet MachineDander is light enough to easily become airborne, so how can you remove allergens from the air in your home? Designed specifically for pet owners, the Austin Air Pet Machine air purifier traps the allergens produced by pets, specifically pet dander. The Austin Air Pet Machine has a filter that traps these microscopic particles as well as a special blend of carbon that reduces the unpleasant pet odors that linger in the air. With 4 stage filtration, five color options, and an effective coverage area of 750 sq. ft., the Pet Machine fits well into nearly any size of room.

Best of luck with your beloved pets! If your allergies are excruciating, even after trying all methods of taming pet dander, you might unfortunately have to consider removing them from your humble abode. If it comes to that, please find them a home where they will be just as loved or even more.

Author: Rachel P.

Posted by kevvyg on Monday, February 18, 2013
Miele S8380 Cat and Dog Canister VacuumAs the last in the new S8 line of Miele vacuum cleaners, the S8380 Cat & Dog is the perfect addition to any pet owner's home. While many of the features make this vacuum a great fit in any home, a few things make this vacuum particularly well-suited to tackle the things that most pet owners deal with - pet dander, hair and odors.

Pet Hair - Nothing screams "I have dogs" like pet hair on every article of clothing you own. Pets shed, and whether you have a pet that only sheds a little or one that could win a Hair Club for Dogs award, keeping pet hair at a minimum can be a real challenge. To help with this, the Cat & Dog has several features, starting with the carpet attachment. The included SEB 228 is powered by an independently driven motor and works well in removing entangled pet hair from any style or thickness of carpet. In addition to this, the S8380 comes standard with the STB 101. This handheld turbobrush is great for removing pet hair from upholstered furniture, carpeted steps or any other area where your pet's hair is finding its way onto and into fabric.

STB 101 Turbobrush - Standard with the Cat & DogPet Dander - Just because you have a pet doesn't mean you never want friends or family, who are allergic to said pet, to never visit. The Miele Cat and Dog uses a sealed system and multiple stages of filtration to not only pick up and remove pet hair and dirt but also microscopic particles of dander. While the filter traps 99.95% of particle 0.5 microns or smaller, the reason why you give up a little bit, compared to traditional HEPA filtration, is explained next.

Pet Odors - I'm one of those pet owners who doesn't like pet hair or pet odors. Truthfully, I was the guy who said, "I'm NEVER have a dog in my house," and like most of the time when someone proclaims 'never' this or 'never' that, it didn't stick. With regular cleaning, you can avoid having visitors come to your house and be smacked in the face with dog funk as soon as they open your front door. The Miele Cat and Dog does its part by removing the pet hair and dander but by also adsorbing odors. The Active AirClean filter uses more activated charcoal than the standard Miele HEPA filter. This helps to remove pet odors as you clean.

The Miele Cat & Dog is Good Housekeeping approved and comes with the same standard features that other Miele S8's offer like, one-touch cord rewind, suction control foot buttons, a raised bumper strip, 3 integrated mini accessories, and one of the longest warranties available today. You can pre-order or for more information about the Miele Cat and Dog canister vacuum. Stay tuned for our video and new photo galleries.

Author: Kevin Gilmore

Posted by kevvyg on Tuesday, November 06, 2012
Sadly, ONLY My Dog Gives Me HivesFor those who suffer from pet allergies, the most common type of reaction is a respiratory one. Sneezing, wheezing, congestion, puffy eyes are often symptoms of pet allergies. There are also skin reactions that can accompany pet allergies. These can include itching, redness, and hives. As puzzling as allergies can often be, some people can exhibit one type of reaction without necessarily exhibiting both.

For the respiratory symptoms, the first step is to get away from the allergen. Once you remove yourself from the situation, to help to relief coughing, sneezing, congestion, watery eyes, etc., an over the counter antihistamine generally provides quick relief. For those who may suffer an asthma attack because of pet allergies, rescue inhalers can open airways and provide relief.

Hives caused by pet dander can create a slightly different set of circumstances. Hives are the byproduct of histamine which causes small amounts of the blood's plasma to leak into the skin. This is why you often see raised, red bumps or many that merge together to form patches or "plaques". Hives itch and burn, and can last anywhere from a few minutes to days.

Hives can be treated with several types of products, and as with other allergic reactions, remove the trigger first. Before you buy something from your local pharmacy, try cooling the area first with a cool compress or even ice. Avoid tight-fitting clothing and the use of hot water or harsh soaps on the affected area. In terms of over the counter medications, antihistamines will help some, but have the greatest benefit when used very shortly after or prior to exposure (to help prevent hives). Other types of anti-itch lotions can prevent scratching and topical analgesics or steroid creams can reduce the swelling, pain, and itching from hives. In severe instances, a shot of epinephrine can be administered.

Related to hives is angioedema. Angioedema is similar to hives with the biggest difference being that the swelling occurs beneath the skin instead of as raised welts and that the swelling is often localized around the eyes, mouth, hands or feet. Angioedema is most often associated with food allergies, but can be brought about by many types of allergens. Treatment of angioedema is the same as hives - remove the allergen, treat the symptom and if severe, visit the doctor.

Sleeping on an Allergy Armor Mattress CoverFor reactions caused by pets or pet dander, avoidance is key. If finding a new home for your favorite pet isn't an option, there are some simple steps you can take to reduce the dander that you come in contact with. For removing dander from the air use a sealed, HEPA air purifier, and vacuum with a quality HEPA vacuum cleaner. Both can remove dander that can be in the air, on the furniture and throughout your home. Limit areas of the home where the pet can roam. Ideally, this means you keep your pet out of your bedroom and off of your bed.

In terms of caring for your pet, regular and frequent brushing can remove excess hair that often holds dander, and by using an anti-allergen pet shampoo with more frequent baths, you can remove dander from your pet's coat.

For me personally, I have no reaction to my dog unless he snuggles up against me. I bathe him with the pet shampoo by Ecology works and frequently dust and sweep (hard flooring only in my home). I also limit the areas of the house available to him by keeping my bedroom door closed. Occasionally I do let him sleep on my leather couch with me, though I throw an Allergy Armor mattress cover over the couch and my blanket to create a barrier between his hair and dander. So while there are many options, even a few simple steps such as these can reduce pet dander and limit both respiratory reactions and skin conditions like hives.

Author: K. Gilmore

Posted by kevvyg on Friday, June 15, 2012
No Cats AllowedAs a dog owner, traveling with Cotton can sometimes be a bit of a hassle. While he goes with me nearly everywhere around the city, visiting family in Ohio or friends in other states presents a challenge. Do I leave him at home with with my roommate or take him along for the vacation? The majority of the time he comes along with me, and I end up driving. I readily admit I have a healthy paranoia of him traveling in the cargo hold of a plane, and stories like that of a couple years ago where an airline lost a passenger's German Shepherd only reinforce that belief. Depending on which airline you've flown and where you were going, you may have encountered another passenger who actually had a small pet with them in the cabin. While this is not common, it can present some problems for allergy sufferers. However, if you are flying a Canadian airline certain flights now ban cats in the cabin.

Ruling on Thursday, the Canadian Transportation Agency has decided to ban cats on certain flights if a passenger with a cat allergy is aboard. The ruling applies to Dash 8-100/300. This smaller aircraft was the focal point of the ruling for two reasons. First, it is smaller than most of the other jumbo jets or airliners that fly commercially in Canada. Secondly, as such, it lacks the ventilation system that larger jets have to effectively filter dander from the cabin air. And on larger airliners, they can create a buffer zone of a few rows of seats to further limit the potential for contact.

Driving the decision was weighing the rights of a person with a cat allergy disability versus the desire for someone to travel with their cat in the cabin. (Allergic People = 1, Cats = 0) The ruling doesn't completely leave cat owners in the dark. First, the cargo hold (with the cat in a carrier) is still an option. If that won't fly (bad pun, I know!), the airline can accommodate the cat owner with a comparable flight within a specified time period.

You may be asking, "What about travel on American airlines?" Well, stateside, the FAA rules leave more of the responsibility to the individual. Some airlines accommodate cats in the cabin while others forbid it. The only caveat to that is service animals. They are not considered pets and, by law, MUST be accommodated in the cabin, without a crate or container. For allergy sufferers who are flying stateside but want to avoid dander, look for specific airlines that ban pets in the cabin. And it is always a good idea to bring a mask along just in case you are allergic to any potential service animals that may be on the flight. For additional filtration in the cabin you can also try a Plane Clean Air, airplane filter.

If you are planning on traveling with a pet, you can get a quick run down of some pet related FAQ's from the FAA's site here. Safe travels!

Author: Kevin Gilmore

Posted by kevvyg on Monday, January 23, 2012
For pet allergy sufferers, keeping dander out of the house seems like an easy task if you don't own a pet, but there are still some hidden ways that dander can make it's way inside your home and on your furniture.

Since pet dander can be as small as just a few microns, it can easily become airborne and attach to household items, particularly clothing and upholstered furniture. So while your buddy, Phil, may be bringing the cheese dip for the Superbowl party, he's likely also carrying a healthy dose of cat dander from his three shorthaired Persians.

But don't exclude Phil just because he's a cat owner (or a Patriots fan). There are a couple quick and easy ways to ensure that the cat dander that came with him doesn't make you miserable for the next week.

By vacuuming with a HEPA vacuum cleaner, you can not only clean up the nacho crumbs left on the sofa but also pet dander and other allergens that guests can commonly bring inside your home. When vacuuming to improve your health (not just appearances) always opt for a vac that has a sealed system and true HEPA filter. Vacuums that lack these features often only redistribute allergens throughout your home.

For throws and decorative pillows, you can simply toss these in the dryer, on high heat, for 15 minutes to kill and remove most allergens that may have settled on them.

For any surface that is prone to collecting allergens from visitors, another convenient solution is an anti-allergen spray. These come in a few varieties but all do the same thing, denature or oxidize protein allergens.

So even after a house full of guests, these simple things can help remove hidden allergens that have made their way into your home.

Posted by Shifrah on Monday, January 16, 2012
We have two cats and a dog, and I do what I know to do in order to keep pet dander around the house to a minimum. I try to keep the animals out of bedrooms, I have a leather couch, I have minimal drapery, and I vacuum frequently with my Dyson. But I'm sure I'm not as motivated to keep pet dander under control as I would be if any of my household were allergic to cats or dogs.

When allergic guests come to my house, however, I become all too aware of how pervasive pet dander can be, and how hard it is to actually get rid of.

Last night, some dear friends from California arrived for a visit, and we had them over for dinner. The husband of the family is quite allergic to cats. I dusted and cleaned the floors one last time at the last minute before they came, and we gave him some homeopathic drops that are supposed help forestall an allergy attack. And of course we locked the cats in a room while he was here.

He seemed to be okay, at least for a while. But by the end of the evening, though it took our asking for him to tell us, he was definitely feeling the effects of his cat allergy. As a hostess, it's an awful feeling to know that your guests are uncomfortable in your home – though of course, the person we should feel sorriest for is the allergic one!

We always keep allergy medicine (as well as those homeopathic drops) on hand for when pet allergic guests come to our house. But sometimes it's not enough. What do you do in addition to your regular environmental control to help allergy sufferers feel at home in your home?


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