Pets Allergens – Allerpet Introduction

An Introduction To Allerpet® And Pet-Related Allergens

Allerpet was created by Larry Kalstone as the first external product to aid in the removal of pet-related allergens from the animals of those persons who wanted pets but were unable to have them because of allergic reactions.

The first suggestion of many professionals is to give up your pet for adoption.  This may well be a necessity, but Allerpet presents another possibility.  There is a  significant 65% to 75% chance that you may be able to keep your pet or even have a pet with a negligible or minimal chance of a reaction if you conscientiously use Allerpet as directed and do some regular (once a week) brushing or combing.

Allerpet was the first, and is still the only, product of its type to undergo formal university testing. This was done under the auspices of Bayer A.G. (Bayer aspirin) of Leverkusen, Germany, at Andhoven & Utrecht Universities in The Netherlands.  The study was published in the Journal of Allergy and Clinical Immunology, January 1995, Vol. 95, Part 2,  Abstract No. 727  (You can read about the study under the menu item “Test Results & More” or by clicking here).

Any animal with hair (fur) or feathers can cause allergies in humans, especially those we keep as household pets, including cats, dogs, all kinds of birds, rabbits, ferrets, gerbils, hamsters, guinea pigs and other rodents.  HOWEVER, it is not the hair that is the problem . . . it is the pet-related allergens carried on the hair shafts that cause allergic reactions.  Pet hair or fur is merely a carrier for the sources of pet allergens, not the allergen itself.  Pets causing the most allergic reactions with humans are, in order: cats, rabbits, dogs, birds and small furry animals.

According to studies published in the Journal of Allergy and Clinical Immunology (the scientific publication of the American Academy of Allergy, Asthma and Immunology), up to 10% of the general population and 40% of allergic individuals react to cats and dogs.

The major pet-related allergens are:  dander, sebaceous skin secretions (fel d 1), saliva, urine and bird feather dust.

These allergens all accomplish the same end: causing an allergic or asthmatic reaction when they are inhaled into your lungs.  Pet allergens, particularly those of cats, are infinitesimally tiny in size, literally invisible to the human eye.  They are extremely light weight, circulating on air currents throughout the house, floating in the air for hours before eventually settling into carpeting, bedding, upholstered furniture, rough-textured fabrics and wall coverings, heating ducts and air conditioners, and anything else with which they come into contact.

They also enter the environment on contaminated hair that pets shed, particularly when they are being stroked or groomed, when they shake, wag their tails, jump on chairs or a sofa, play indoors or rub against objects.  Once these allergens do settle, sitting on furniture, vacuuming or walking on carpets, fluffing cushions or the pet’s bedding, raising or lowering the blinds, or opening drapes can cause tremendous amounts of pet allergens to billow into the air once again.

Dander: Pets constantly shed dander (dead skin scales, similar to only much smaller than dandruff on a human scalp)) as their epidermis, or outer layer of skin turns over or regenerates itself.  The epidermis is made up of multiple thin layers which are constantly pushing upward from the deepest level of the epidermis to replace the cells above.  As this process takes place, usually about every 21 days, the outer, or old dead cells, flake off the skin and into the environment as dander.

Most of these allergens are extremely small, requiring a high power microscope or chemistry to discern them.  With millions or billions of them floating around a room, no one would ever know that they are even there . . . except for allergy sufferers.  After they circulate in the air, they cling to drapes, furniture and wall coverings.  If a dog or cat has been in the family for a period of time, some of each of its allergens will have permeated the house.

Unfortunately, there are very few hypoallergenic animals . . . cats or dogs.

Occasionally, a litter of cats or dogs will have a kitten or puppy that produces less dander, but this is a rarity and not reproducible by breeding. It just happens and will not be known until an allergic person happens to pick it up and have only a mild reaction.

Incidentally, there are no breeds of dogs or cats that do not produce allergenic pet dander, although, some do release more dander than others.

Sebaceous Gland Secretions (fel d 1):  The primary cat allergen is fel d 1, a glycoprotein that is secreted by the sebaceous glands.  These secretions from the sebaceous glands of the skin are located at the base of the hair follicles and are oily lubricants that keep the skin supple.  They are deposited on the hairs inside the follicles and brought up to the surface of the skin along the shaft, where they dry on the hair, flake off and become airborne as microscopic particles.  The sebaceous anal glands as well as the salivary glands (see below) are also involved in allergen production.

Published studies show that fel d 1 is associated with small particles that remain airborne for long periods of time.   When it does settle, fel d 1 is particularly “sticky,” clinging stubbornly to clothing, furniture, drapes, carpets and walls.  fel d 1 is the most potent of all pet-related allergens and, for this reason, some people cannot enter a house or apartment where a cat lives without rapidly developing symptoms.

Saliva:  Saliva is another major allergen of all pets.  fel d 1 is also found in saliva and is especially potent when one is allergic to cats and/or rabbits.  Cats groom themselves repeatedly by licking their fur with their tongues.  Unfortunately, with each lick of their tongues, large amounts of saliva is deposited on the hair, which then dries, flakes off and becomes airborne to trigger allergic symptoms.  Like cats, rabbits are fastidiously clean animals and they, too, groom themselves by licking and depositing saliva on their fur.

Urine:  Urinary secretions are frequently deposited on the hair, especially on long-coated pets where, if not cleansed away, will dry on the hair and flake off to circulate in the environment.  Urine is the major allergen for the small members of the rodent family: gerbils, hamsters, rats and mice.

Feather Dust From Birds:  The major bird allergen is derived from their feathers.  When birds preen themselves and flutter their wings, no matter how small they may be, they shake feather dust into the air in and around their cages.  There are a few species of parrots which produce significant amounts of feather dander called powder.  These birds … Cockatiels, Cockatoos and African Grays … are called “powder down birds.”  They may cause more problems for “bird-allergic” people because they can produce enough powder to coat the furniture and floors of the room in which they are caged on an almost daily basis.  Unfortunately, this dust is so tiny that it spreads quickly and circulates throughout the house.