Pet Owners

What is pet dander?

Pet dander is very tiny particles of skin that had been shed from animals with fur or feathers. So, foxes produce dander, parrots produce dander, and horses produce dander. Since most people don’t have these animals in their home, their dander is not a problem. But the dander from cats, dogs, rabbits, ferrets and small rodents is a problem. 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.

Why is pet dander a problem?

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

When you inhale these tiny particles of skin, your immune system thinks it is under attack by germs. In allergic people, the immune system misidentifies these harmless proteins as evil invaders. It creates a specific antibody for the protein. Next time it sees the protein, it cues the antibody to start stimulating mast cells. A cascade of reactions occurs and the result is one or more of these symptoms:

> Itchy or watery eyes
> Coughing
> Sneezing
> Wheezing
> Eczema
> Stuffy nose or runny nose.




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