Allerpet FAQ

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All Allergies

Pet-Related Allergies

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How many people suffer from allergic diseases?
Allergy is, according to the Encyclopedia Britannica, probably the most widespread chronic condition in the world; it is a major problem in every country. It is estimated that one in four people is a chronic allergy sufferer, although anyone has the potential to develop an allergy at any time. Allergies are so prevalent that they affect almost every household. Nearly everyone either has an allergy or knows someone who does.
What is an allergy?
An allergy is a hypersensitivity, or abnormal reaction, to a substance that is ordinarily harmless to most people. Substances which cause allergies are called allergens or antigens. These may be taken into the body in four ways:Through the nose, throat, and lungs… in the airborne substances we inhale. Pollen, house dust, and pet allergens (from dander, saliva and urine) and are prime examples. Through the mouth and digestive system, in the food, food additives, or drugs we ingest. Through the substances and chemicals that come in contact with our skin, such as poison ivy, cosmetics, grooming aids and detergents.Through the tissues under the skin, via the chemicals injected into our bodies, such as vaccines, medicines, (penicillin, antibiotics, and insulin), or by animal bites or insect stings.Animal allergens, pollen, house dust, molds, foods and medicines are only a few substances that trigger allergic episodes. Fabric softeners, soaps, detergents, perfumes, scented cosmetics, insecticides, cleaning fluids, paints, tobacco, and even fumes given off by vehicles and industry can set off allergies. In short, anyone can be allergic to anything.
Is any age especially prone to allergy?
No. Allergies can develop at any age but there is a greater inclination for them to start during childhood, partly because a child’s immune system is more active and sensitive than an adult’s.Some people develop allergies in childhood and have them all their lives while others “outgrow” their allergies. While it happens occasionally that a youngster will lose symptoms of a specific allergic condition, a child almost never loses his allergic state; other allergic manifestations or the old symptoms return. It’s also not unusual for an allergy to manifest itself in mid-life, when after repeated contact with certain allergens, a person suddenly develops a sensitivity.
What causes an allergic reaction?
It results from a misdirected response by the immune system, the body’s defense against invasion by bacteria, viruses, and other organisms.During our lifetime, millions of foreign substances enter the human system, usually with no detrimental effects. Normally, the immune system produces various antibodies that kill or neutralize specific foreign invaders. When such a substance enters the body — whether it’s swallowed, inhaled, injected, or touched — specifically programmed antibodies attack and destroy it. In people with allergies, the immune system can’t tell the difference between dangerous and harmless substances. It attacks normally non-irritating substances — pollen, dust, animal dander, food and the like — by producing 5 types of special antibodies (which substances called immunoglobins). The one that triggers most allergic reactions is Immunoglobin E (IgE).Exposure plays an important role. You’re most likely to develop an allergy to a substance you’ve been exposed to in small doses, many times, separated by intervals. Sensitivity to a particular allergen can take anywhere from a few days to a few years to develop. Rarely does an allergen provoke a reaction the first time you encounter it.

Suppose you become allergic to animal dander. When the tiny dander particles first enter your body, nothing happens. But the next time animal dander enters your body, or the tenth time, or the hundredth time (it frequently takes numerous exposures before an allergy develops), your immune system begins to manufacture IgE antibodies to combat the dander allergens. The IgE antibodies gather on the surface of two types of body cells: the mast cells (tissue cells found primarily in the lining of the nose, throat, lungs, gastrointestinal tract and skin), and the basophils (a type of white blood cell).

The union of the specific IgE and allergen that takes place on the surface of the two cell types is explosive. The cells become injured or “sensitized,” which causes them to release a torrent of irritating chemicals, particularly histamine. Normal amounts do no harm, but too much cause the capillaries to widen. You could say that the immune system goes haywire. Depending on the part of the body where the reaction takes place: the nose, eyes, sinuses, lungs, gastrointestinal tract of skin, it triggers various maddening sensations associated with allergies like a runny nose, sinusitis, itchy eyes, vomiting, diarrhea, wheezing, hives, eczema and so forth.

How many people are allergic to animals?
Sensitivities to animals is one of the most frequently seen allergies. It is currently estimated that 15 to 20 percent of the population are sensitive to animals. With a population of approximately 250 million in the United States, this means that between 50 to 60 million Americans may be adversely affected when exposed. According to many physicians, these figures may be low estimates. From the standpoint of sheer numbers of susceptible people, says Dr. Michael G. Loar of Littleton, Colorado, allergy may well be the most common illness caused by pets.

Pets have become an integral part of our lives and pet ownership is at an all-time high in the United States. Our total pet population is more than 160 million, the most common being cats and dogs. Allergies to cats in particular have multiplied alarmingly; there are more cats than ever in homes in many parts of the world. Veterinarians in the nation say that their feline patients have doubled or even tripled in the last decade. Cat care now comprises nearly 60 percent of many practices.

I have heard that there are “hypoallergenic” dogs and cats – is this true?
Some individuals may claim to sell “hypoallergenic” dogs and cats or those with “non-allergenic” hair but there is no such animal. All dogs and cats: purebred, mixed-breed, short-haired, long-haired, wire-haired, curly-haired and even hairless dogs and cats can, and usually do, trigger symptoms. In any given litter of dogs or cats, there may be an animal that has fewer allergy causing allergens than any other in the litter and as a result, may not cause noticeable allergic reactions. If an allergic person happens to get such an animal and then tells others that this breed is hypoallergenic, a new rumor is started.
Is anything available to help allergy sufferers relieve their sensitivities to pets?
Until Allerpet was formulated, nothing had been available to use on furred or feathered animals to help allergy sufferers. Allerpet Dander Remover® was formulated to solve these problems by cleansing the hair of the antigens that cause their sensitivities, by controlling their dispersal into the environment, and by specially conditioning the hair and skin to reduce future accumulations. The premise behind Allerpet is the removal of pet-related allergens before they have a chance to enter the environment of an allergic person. In university testing, Allerpet reduced Fel d1 (the cat allergen) in house dust by 50 percent.

Allerpet cleanses the animal of pet-related allergens, re-moisturizes the fur and skin to minimize future accumulations of dander and scale and replenishes the stripped-out oils of the hair. It can be applied conveniently without effort and, most importantly, does not leave any residue on the coat either to ingest or to attract additional allergens.

Allerpet is completely safe for use around children or aged adults. It is non-toxic and also completely safe for use on kittens, puppies and older animals. Oral, ocular and dermal toxicity testing was completed by an independent testing laboratory.

How is Allerpet® applied?
Allerpet® is easy to use on all animals with fur or feathers. It is sponged onto the hair or sprayed onto the feathers once a week. Allerpet® is non-oily and will not leave a sticky residue on the coat or feathers. Since perfume can trigger allergic reactions, Allerpet® contains no fragrance. It is safe and non-toxic to pets, regardless of how frequently an animal licks its coat.

Removal of the allergens from an animal before they have a chance to become airborne is the easiest, quickest, and most certain way to reduce the environmental load of pet-related allergens. This is especially true of cat allergen which is extremely tiny and remains airborne for protracted periods of time.

Do You Have Data?
Anecdotal testing of Allerpet® commenced in April of 1985 and continued through June of 1988. A total of 160 persons were involved in the study. Throughout the study, a consistent 80 to 85 percent of those participating expressed a significant improvement in their ability to tolerate their pets. This high success rate is consistent with many papers that have been published on the subject of aeroallergens over the last few years.

In conjunction with Bayer AG of Leverkusen, Germany (the manufacturers of Bayer Aspirin), the formal testing of Allerpet® was completed on January 31, 1994 at Utrecht University in the Netherlands. An abstract describing the testing was presented at the annual meeting of The American Academy of Allergy and Immunology in New York in February of 1995. The study showed that Allerpet decreased the fel d 1 in carpet dust by 50% with just two weekly uses. You can read more about this study here.

Why Didn’t You Test Allerpet® Against Plain Water?
We were looking for numerical determinations of the efficacy of Allerpet®, not comparative results. The sold object of this study was to determine the reduction, if any, of Fel d1 in dust, from the fur of the animal, and in the air.
Why Not Just Use Plain Water or Give a Bath?
Plain water is better than nothing, but it does not compare to using a product specifically designed for the purpose of removing allergens. A soap and water bath does reduce the amount of allergens, but the results are only temporary and don’t last longer than a week, according to a study, published in the September 1997 Journal of Allergy and Clinical Immunology. Another potential problem with bathing is that many owners really don’t know how to thoroughly rinse the suds from the animal and consequently leave a considerable amount of residue on the skin and fur to make it dry and flaky. Then too, bathing a cat can present problems for cat owners. Most don’t want to do it on a regular basis because cats and water can make an explosive combination!
Can Allerpet® Be Applied With a Pump or Mist Sprayer?
No. It is essential to cleanse pets – especially dogs and cats – to the skin. Using a pump or mist sprayer will apply Allerpet® only topically. It is necessary to use a washcloth or small sponge as a vehicle, not only to wet and cleanse the animal, but as the medium to carry away the allergens from the skin and fur.
Does Allerpet® Contain Tannic Acid or Alcohol?
No, Allerpet® does not contain tannic acid or alcohol. Tannic acid and/or alcohol should never be used on the skin and hair of an animal because of their caustic nature. Generally, products that contain tannic acid are used to denature carpeting and are only effective if used at rates that virtually saturate the carpet. A list of Allerpet’s ingredients can be found here.
Why are there three versions of Allerpet rather than only one?
Most pet owners choose pet products that are made specifically for their pets.  Allerpet recognizes that a one-size-fits-all product is possible (Allerpet Pet Dander Remover comes close to being that product), but it is not what most pet owners really want.  Allerpet Cat Dander Remover has more of one of the allergen binders in it than either of the other versions.  We have increased that binder to help cat owners remove the large volume of sticky cat dander that is found on the fur of most cats.  Dogs produce less dander, so they require a less potent formula to help remove the dander on their fur.  Allerpet Pet Dander Remover has more binder than Dog Dander Remover and less of it than Allerpet Cat Dander Remover, so families with several kinds of furry pets can purchase one product that can be used for all of their pets.  

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Which animals cause allergic reactions?
Any animal with hair, fur or feathers can cause allergies, including cats, dogs, rabbits, horses, ferrets, gerbils, guinea pigs, hamsters, mice, rats, farm animals, all species of large cats, and all kinds of birds. Cats, by far, cause the most allergic reactions, followed by dogs, rabbits and horses.
Which allergic symptoms do pets cause?
Furred or feathered pets may cause different types of allergic symptoms in humans, however the most common are:Red, itchy, watery eyes
Watery nasal discharge
Nasal congestion
Itchy nose
Sneezing (sometimes ten or more in rapid succession)
Scratchy palate and throat
Chronic sore throat
Coughing spells followed by wheezing and whistling
Shortness of breath or difficulty in breathing
Itchy skin, hives or welts produced by touching an animal or being licked by it
I have heard that there are “hypoallergenic” dogs and cats – is this true?
Some individuals may claim to sell “hypoallergenic” dogs and cats or those with “non-allergenic” hair but there is no such animal. All dogs and cats: purebred, mixed-breed, short-haired, long-haired, wire-haired, curly-haired and even hairless dogs and cats can, and usually do, trigger symptoms. In any given litter of dogs or cats, there may be an animal that has fewer allergy causing allergens than any other in the litter and as a result, may not cause noticeable allergic reactions. If an allergic person happens to get such an animal and then tells others that this breed is hypoallergenic, a new rumor is started.
What causes allergies to pets?
Most people think an animal’s hair causes allergies, but that’s not altogether true. What they are really allergic to are the secretions of the sebaceous skin glands, the saliva, the dander (or dead skin flakes), and the urine residue, all of which contaminate the hair and all of which are major causes of allergic reactions. While pet hair itself is not a major cause of allergies, it serves as a carrier for those allergens that are. These allergens dry on the hair and subsequently flake off into the environment, along with dander, and become airborne as the animal moves about. They also enter the environment on the contaminated hair that pets shed, when pets are being stroked or groomed, when the shake, vigorously wag their tails, jump on furniture, play with toys and when they rub against objects. The longer a pet lives in a home, the more its allergens will have spread throughout the entire house.
Do all dogs and cats cause the same degree of reactions or are there differences?
Some dogs and cats shed fewer allergens into the home environment than others, but there’s no way to tell which ones they are. Those with soft, curly or silky hair and no undercoats to shed seem to cause fewer allergy problems than those with double coats (thick outercoats and soft undercoats). The latter tend to shed excessive amounts of hair – contaminated with allergens – throughout the home, especially during heavy shedding seasons in late spring and early fall.What we do know is that allergen production is controlled by hormones. Male animals produce more allergens than females and when males are neutered, the amount of allergen produced decreases within a month.
Why do cats cause more allergies than other pets?
Sensitivities to cats can be extremely serious. Cats have an allergen that is unique to them. It is called Fel d1 and is so small that it takes special air purifiers and vacuum sweepers (HEPA) to collect them. Because of their extremely small size, they remain floating in the environment for very long periods of time where they may be inhaled by an allergic person. Fel d1 is produced in the saliva which is then deposited on the hair through the cat’s self cleaning process. It is also produced in great quantities by sebaceous gland secretions and deposited on the coat along with the dead, flaked-off cells of the skin (dander). These allergens affect the eyes quickly and are inhaled through the nose and lungs to produce symptoms.
Cats are known to be extremely fastidious so why do they cause more allergic reactions than other pets?
Cats groom themselves repeatedly by licking their fur with their tongues. Such methodical self-grooming is not just a matter of personal hygiene, it is a reflex behavior in normal healthy cats. It is estimated that most normal, healthy cats spend from 30 to 50 percent of their waking time grooming themselves. And it is this natural behavioral instinct that makes cats more allergic than other pets. Each lick of their tongues during the grooming process deposits large amounts of saliva on the fur. The saliva dries on the hair, eventually flakes off, becomes airborne and triggers the symptoms that characterize allergies to cats. The allergen in cat saliva and sebaceous gland secretions is one of the smallest of all known allergens and, after being inhaled, penetrates vary deep into the lungs.
Is it true that you can get a skin rash from your pet?
Yes. Some common skin conditions associated with pet allergies are hives, eczema and contact dermatitis. Allergy sufferers can develop any of these by simply touching, fondling, hugging or kissing their pets, and especially from being licked by the pet.
Is it true that black cats cause more allergy problems than other colors?
Yes, according to a report published in The Journal of the American Medical Association, cats with dark coats seem to provoke more allergic reactions that those that are light-colored. Researchers found that the odds were 6 times higher with a dark cat than with other colors.
Why do puppies and kittens cause fewer allergy problems?
Young animals, especially puppies and kittens, have less skin to shed and therefore diminished dander. This is why people who purchase young pets often find themselves “suddenly” developing an allergy to the pet as it reaches maturity.
What causes allergies to birds? Is it the feathers?
All birds can produce allergic reactions in humans. Research has determined that bird feathers themselves have little allergic potential. The major bird allergen comes from a bird’s feather dust or dander. When birds preen themselves, ruffle and shake their feathers, flutter their wings, twitch from side to side, or spread their tail feathers, no matter how small they are, they shake this fine dust around their cages and into the air. Feather dust is very light; it becomes airborne easily and circulates through the house on air currents, air conditioning and heating ducts. Bird droppings that are allowed to dry on the cage bottom can be a breeding ground for mold, bacteria, viruses and other organisms that can aggravate allergies.
Do some birds trigger more allergy symptoms than others?
Yes, Cockatiels, Cockatoos, African Grays and Pigeons. These are called “powder down” birds. They are extremely dusty and cause the most irritation to people with allergies and other respiratory problems. Unlike most other birds that shed and replace their feathers via a process called molting, powder down feathers grow constantly and eventually disintegrate into a fine, waxy, talcum-like white powder. They are capable of producing large quantities of this powdery dust on a daily basis to coat the floors, furniture and other surfaces of the rooms in the birds in question are caged.
Do rabbits make good pets for allergic people because they’re so clean?
While it’s true that rabbits are very clean animals and make wonderful pets, they can cause allergic reactions similar to those of a cat. Like cats, they constantly groom themselves with their tongue and coat their fur with saliva, a major pet allergen.
What about small furry pets?
Urine from small furry pets like hamsters, guinea pigs, gerbils, chinchillas, rats, mice and ferrets contains allergens which also trigger reactions. It appears that proteins present in the urine, particularly of males, are the primary cause of allergies to rodents and other small furry caged pets. Additional allergens from dander and saliva have also been reported.
If I’m allergic to my pet, must I find it another home?
There are no convincing studies demonstrating the clinical benefits of removing a pet from the home. While symptoms may not go totally away, most people with allergies can live comfortably with their pets if they take certain steps to manage their symptoms. Giving up your pet should be the last step you take, not the first.A recent study found that even those who don’t own pets still have significant levels of animal allergens in their homes. Pet allergens also are easily transported on clothing and shoes and spread to public places such as schools, hospitals, office buildings, shopping malls, hotels, cinemas, buses and trains…in other words, they’re everywhere.
What steps should I take?
One of the most important ways to control the dispersal of allergens into the environment is via regular cleansing of hairy, furry or feathered pets and keeping their bedding or cages fresh and clean. When pets are neglected, microscopic particles of their allergens become airborne in large quantities. Even if you’re not allergic, keeping pets clean is one of the most essential aspects of animal health care.
What’s the best way to clean my dog or cat?
First: Brushing or combing the hair or fur at least once a week is important to remove dander and any loose, dead hair contaminated with saliva and other pet allergens. If possible, a non-allergic family member should do the grooming or cleansing.Second: Cleanse your pet with Allerpet on a weekly basis to reduce the amount of pet allergens. Bathing is an alternative, but research shows that you have to do it every week. To avoid the hassle of a weekly bath – especially with cats who usually dread the process – Allerpet should be used to wipe down the coat every week or so that will remove the allergens without getting the animal, and you, wet. Allerpet is easy to use: you wipe it over the pet, often while pet sits on a towel in your lap. Allerpet cleanses allergens from the skin and hair and stops their dispersal into the environment.
Do birds also need to be cleansed?
Yes, pet birds need to bathe too, usually twice a week, to rinse off feather dust and dirt. You don’t need to hold a bird for its bath. Depending on their size, birds will bathe themselves in a shallow bowl of water that is placed in the bottom of their cage, or they can be gently misted with a spray bottle filled with lukewarm water or <a title=”Allerpet For Pets” href=”http://allerpet.com/product/allerpet-for-pets-and-pet-allergies”>Allerpet For Pets</a>, misting the solution away from the head and towards the tail. Keep the bird away from drafts until it is completely dry.
How can you keep your pet and control your allergies?
Many people can significantly decrease their symptoms by using Allerpet® and making a few adjustments in their lifestyle and environment. Scientists have made dramatic advances in the understanding and management of airborne animal allergens in recent years. The trend has moved toward coexistence, i.e. working out a plan that enables a person to keep his or her pet while taking certain practical steps to “allergy-proof” or minimize allergens in the environment by a combination of actions including cleansing the animal, reducing dust levels and filtering the air.Allergies are cumulative. In other words, they build up. People also can have varying degrees of sensitivities to different allergens. When someone is allergic to a pet, he’s probably also allergic to other substances found in and around the house. Dust, dust mites, mold, mildew, pollens, flowers, paint, perfume, soaps, cosmetics and other substance can trigger allergic reactions. Whether a person has symptoms or not depends on how many of these allergens are in his environment at a particular time.Every allergic person has a tolerance level above which an acute reaction takes place. This is sometimes referred to as the “rain barrel” effect. Someone who is allergic to animals, for instance, may have no noticeable symptoms when his total exposure is below his allergy threshold (the amount of a substance needed to produce a reaction). But collect enough other allergens in the same environment to exceed his allergy threshold limit, his “rain barrel” will overflow and symptoms will pop up. One of the most important goals in controlling allergies to pets is to minimize exposure to other allergens, such as those previously mentioned, that trigger attacks. By using Allerpet Dander Remover® on a regular basis, and by taking a few preventive measures to remove or decrease other allergens in the home, an allergy sufferer should be able to reduce many of the sensitivities to his pet.
What can I do to “allergen-proof” my home?
After cleansing your pet and its environment, the next course of action is to reduce your exposure to other allergens in your home. The more of them you can remove – especially dust, dust mites, mold and pollen allergens – the better. You will not be able to eliminate them completely, but you can minimize your exposure to them with a little effort.
Just how much housecleaning is necessary? Must I be constantly cleaning?
Unless your allergies are severe, you’ll probably only need to observe a few. For instance, just turning your bedroom into an allergy-free zone… keeping your pet out of the room at all times, using a HEPA air purifier, making your bed and bedding as dust mite free as possible, using washable throw rugs or vacuuming with a HEPA vacuum… may be all that is necessary. Plus, innovative new cleaning equipment and products make it easier to cut cleaning time as well as allergen build-up. You no longer need to mop till you drop.
What is HEPA?
HEPA stands for High Efficiency Particulate Air. A HEPA air purifier or vacuum can capture particles that are 0.3 microns in size with 99.97 percent efficiency.
Won’t conventional vacuums do just as well?
Most conventional vacuum cleaners rate below par when it comes to retaining very tiny allergens. Their filtering systems are usually only capable of retaining particles of 50 microns or larger, when the tiny particles – cat allergen in particular – are the ones that aggravate you the most. They do pick up small irritants, but they blow them through the exhaust outlet right back into the air, aggravating the allergies you’re trying to relieve.
What about isolating my pet to one or two rooms in my house?
Doing so only contains their allergens to a limited degree. Currents throughout your home – forced air heating, air conditioning, fans, for instance – can spread them throughout the premises. Moving the pet to the outdoors isn’t a foolproof solution either. Research has shown that animal allergens remain in a home for surprisingly long periods after an animal has been removed.
What happens when your doctor says you’re allergic to pets?
Being allergic doesn’t mean that you can’t have a pet or that you must give up one you already have. Even if your doctor finds that you have an animal-related allergy, don’t give up your pet so quickly. The human-companion animal bond is so strong that the thought of having to give up a pet because of allergies is almost impossible to contemplate. In fact, the Humane Society of the United States reports that in a study of hundreds of adults who were allergic to cats or dogs and had been told by their physicians to find new homes for them, only one in five did. What’s more, several of them obtained another pet after the previous one had died.The importance of pets to human mental health has been well documents and we have learned, too, that pets can play an important roll in people’s physical well being. Pets, especially dogs and cats, are loved like children. Owners pamper them, let them sleep in their beds, worry about their health, give them unlimited access to areas where the family spends most of their time, and frequently take them along on vacations or social visits. Having to part with a cherished animal can be an emotionally wrenching experience, especially when the pet has given years of devotion and companionship. It’s like losing a much-loved family member. The thoughts of what will happen to it can be agonizing and the ensuring emotional trauma can make an allergy even worse.

Then there is the special problem of pets and allergic children. A youngster with allergies can disrupt an entire family. Other non-allergic children often become jealous and resentful because they cannot have a pet, or have to give up one which is loved and wanted. They frequently develop behavior problems in an effort to receive more attention.

Some doctors add that giving up a pet literally can be heartbreaking since studies show that pet owners tend to live longer after a heart attack than non-pet owners, presumably because caring for a pet eases stress. Scientists have made dramatic advances in the understanding and management of airborne animal allergens in recent years and, except in the most dire cases, removing a pet from the home is not the only solution any more. Except in the worse case scenario, giving up a pet should be the last step an allergic person should take, never the first.

What about allergy medications?
If you’re allergic to your pet, taking steps to minimize allergens on the pet as well as in your home are usually all that is necessary to control your symptoms. But, if this strategy doesn’t significantly reduce your symptoms, your allergist may recommend combining these measures with medication or immunotherapy.
How effective are over-the-counter or prescription medications and immunotherapy or “allergy shots?” Are they effective for pet allergies?
This is a very promising time for the treatment of allergies for dozens of new drugs are now available to make living with allergies and animals more comfortable. The latest allergy medications currently in clinical use or in development have the potential to block allergic responses before they ever begin. People who are allergic to pets are among the best candidates for immunotherapy. Allergy shots are effective in up to 90 percent of patients in helping to control or even eliminate symptoms.