The skin sheddings (dander) or epidermal scales of animals
are more potent in causing allergic reactions than the animal's fur
or hair. In addition to skin sheddings and fur, allergic reactions
to the saliva and urine of cat, dog, horse, guinea pig or hamster are also
Ideally, there should be no animal pets in the household
of a child allergic to animal dander. In cases of mild sensitivity the pet may be
house, especially out of the allergic individual's bedroom. When a
pet is removed from the household remember that animal danders can
persist for several months after the animal is gone. This is also important
to keep in mind when moving into a new dwelling if the previous occupant
Precautions for specific animal danders are listed below.
Cat pelts, fur, saliva and urine are amongst the most allergenically
offensive of all the animal allergens. Even with a past history of
tolerance to cats it is possible for an individual with an allergic
tendency to develop sensitivity after constant exposure. This is also
true for other animals.
Since the allergic reaction is usually directed against the skin sheddings
and not the fur, it make little difference whether the dog has long
or short hair. Also, small dogs can cause as much allergy as large
dogs. In addition, there is no proof that any specific breed of dog
is less likely to cause allergic reactions. Again, if the family is
unwilling to give up a dog for the benefit of the allergic patient,
the dog should be kept outside and must be kept out of the allergic
Sensitive persons must avoid not only horses and stables, but also
persons and objects directly connected with the handling of horses.
For example, contact with clothing worn for horseback riding may cause
as much trouble as direct contact with horse. Horse hair used to be
used as upholstery material and could also be found in carpet padding,
stuffed furniture, and stuffed toys.
Cattle Hair, Hog Hair:
Some pads for placing under rugs or carpets are still made of cattle
and hog hair.
Older upholstered furniture or automobile seats may contain goat hair
as well as cattle hair or hog hair. Mohair is the name given to the
fine wooly hair of the Angora goat. However, once processed, the fabrics
are much less allergenic than the crude fur. In addition, oriental
carpets often contain goat hair or mohair.
Most allergic reactions come from direct contact with live animals
as pets or laboratory animals. As with other furs, processed rabbit
fur in angora yarns or tanned and cured rabbit pelts such as fur coats
are less allergenic.
Rats, mice, hamsters, gerbils and other pets are well known exciters
of allergic problems. Mouse urine is an especially potent allergen
for personnel who handle laboratory animals. It is reasonable to expect
other pets' urine to be allergenic as well.
The most common sources of feather in the home are in pillows and also in bedding.
dust may contaminate a pillow, especially feather pillows--dust allergic patient should not use feather pillows. The best pillow for an allergic individual is made of Dacron.
Danders,” by Catherine G. Fuller, M.D., Board Certified
Asthma and Allergy.