Sixty-five percent of U.S. households include one or more animals, according the latest AAPA National Pet Owners Survey*. That’s 79.7 million homes—and, for allergy sufferers, a whole lot of fur, fluff and feathers.
But even creature-free residences harbor irritants: More than 90 percent of all U.S. abodes test positive for animal allergens, regardless of pet presence**. That’s because pet allergens are easily spread via shedding hair or fur, and hard to get rid of once they settle in.
Here are some more facts about pets and allergies that might surprise you:
In the United States, up to 30 percent of people have allergic reactions to cats and dogs—and cat allergies are about twice as common as dog allergies***.
Allergy sufferers react specifically to the proteins contained in pet saliva, urine and dander (dead skin cells) that disperse as our beloved beasts shed. Pet hair can also trap mold, pollen and other outdoor allergens, doubling the trouble.
Human dander can actually cause allergic rashes or respiratory reactions in animals, the same way theirs can trigger a reaction in people with allergies.
Pet allergens cling to walls, furniture and clothing, and can hang in the air for months (and throughout multiple washes) even after a pet is gone.
A truly non-allergenic breed of dog or cat doesn’t exist. (Nope, not even the hairless varieties.) Allergic dander in cats and dogs isn’t a function of length or texture of fur.
Cat allergens are “stickier” than just about any other type of allergen. And as felines go, male cats produce more of the protein humans react to (Fel d1) than female cats do.
According to a study in the Journal of the American Medical Association****, children raised in a house with two or more pets during their first year of life may be less likely than children raised in critter-free dwellings to develop allergic diseases.
*American Pet Products Association
**American College of Allergy, Asthma & Immunology
***Asthma and Allergy Foundation of America