• Pet Allergies

    It is estimated that there are more than 100 million pets in the United States and more than 70% of American homes have a dog or a cat or both. We are attached to our pets for a variety of reasons including unconditional love, companionship, security and comfort to name a few.
                             
    However, according to the Humane Society of the United States, approximately 15% of the U.S. population is allergic to pets and other animals. People with pet allergies are allergic to a protein, which is found in pet dander (dead skin flakes), oils secreted by the sebaceous (skin) glands, saliva and urine. There is a common misconception that people are allergic to pet hair or fur. It is not the hair itself that causes the allergic reaction. However, exposure to pet hair can and does expose people to allergens carried on the hair. This is because when an animal grooms itself, allergen-containing saliva is deposited on the hair. And, hair and fur can collect dust, pollen, mold and other allergens.
     
    So, while the hair or fur is not an allergen in and of itself, it is easy to understand why the misconception concerning “pet hair allergy” exists. Given that there is no allergy to pet hair, per se, there is no such thing as a non-allergenic pet, even short haired or hairless breeds. Cat allergies are twice as common as dog, though birds, rabbits, rodents and any animal with feathers or fur can create or trigger allergies. Pet droppings are also of concern, especially in the case of birds and rodents.
     
    Pet allergen accumulates easily and persistently in carpets, mattresses, bedding, upholstered furniture and clothing. It consists of very small, lightweight particles can stay airborne for long periods of time when disturbed, being easily inhaled into the nose and lungs or landing on the lining of the eyes. One would, of course, expect to find animal allergens primarily in homes where animals are present.
     
    Surprisingly, however, animal allergens are also found (in lesser amounts) in places where pets have never been present such as workplaces, schools and other public buildings. It is likely that pet allergen is brought into these environments on the clothing of pet owners. Animal dander is sticky and can easily adhere to other surfaces. So while dander on smooth surfaces can be easily removed by simple cleaning, dander on textile surfaces such as carpeting, upholstered furniture, mattresses and clothing can persist for long periods of time.
     
    Most estimates are that even after pets have been removed from a home, pet allergens will still be present even after five to six months! The number one recommendation of allergists to families with pet allergy sufferers is to remove pets from the home. Anyone who has had to face the trauma of giving up a beloved pet will understand why it is estimated that between 75 and 90% of families with pet allergies do not take their physician’s advice and remove their pets from the home. The Humane Society estimates that one third of people with cat allergies, perhaps the most potent pet allergy, have at least one cat in the home! It’s clear that the benefits of pet ownership clearly outweigh the allergic symptoms for the majority of pet allergy sufferers.
     
    Like dust mites, prolonged exposure to pet allergen can cause the development of allergies as well as aggravate existing allergic illness and stimulate the progression of allergies into more serious allergic diseases such as asthma. In fact, 20 to 30 percent of asthma sufferers also have pet allergies. Given that people are so unwilling to treat pet allergies by removing the offending pets, and that containing and controlling pet allergen is so difficult, a treatment regimen such as Master Blend’s Responsible Care System that renders pet allergen inert and unable to cause allergic reaction is ideal. 
     
    Can Allergic Illnesses be Controlled and Even Prevented Through Environmental Control?One of the major reasons people develop allergic illnesses is overexposure to various allergens, especially those found in indoor air. This is due in part to the rapidly increasing levels of serious allergens, especially from dust mites and pets, found indoors combined with the fact that Americans now spend up to 90% of their time indoors. The American Academy of Allergy Asthma and Immunology (AAAAI) states that it is important to implement a system of controlling exposure to indoor allergens (known as Environmental Control or EC ) before the expression or manifestation of allergic illness .
     
    EC is one of the four general principles of preventing and managing allergic disease recommended by the medical community. They go on to say that it is important to use Environmental Control in homes with young children in order to prevent sensitization, the first phase in the development of allergic disease, in non-atopic (those without a genetic predisposition to allergic illness) children. It is now clear that allergies can, in fact, be controlled and even prevented by avoiding the triggers that cause them. These same triggers can cause sufferers to develop additional and often more serious allergic illnesses as well. With EC, efforts are made to reduce exposure to or eliminate the sources of the most important indoor allergens; dust mites and pets.
     
    Often, this approach is focused simply on reducing house dust, which contains these allergens when they are present. The theory being that a reduction in dust will equal a reduction in allergen. There are many ways that people implement EC. These include mattress covers, HEPA air cleaners, specialized vacuum cleaners and even some exotic practices such as liquid nitrogen treatments. And there have been many reports that these efforts have helped some people. And while it makes sense to practice EC to the extent that one is able, the real truth is that, until now, there has not been a truly successful way to reduce the most serious allergens found in indoor air without a lot of effort and expense and the very real possibility that no matter how diligent one is at implementing EC, results are uncertain at best.