Dander allergies are allergic reactions to pet dander, which are small scales of skin that animals shed, like dandruff. Pet dander can also accumulate on clothing, so if someone who is sensitive to dander has had contact with a pet, their clothing should be laundered. Pet allergies are triggered by either dander or a pet’s saliva, and not it's fur as is commonly assumed. In general, most allergic reactions are caused by otherwise harmless substances in the environment, but a sufferer's immune system mounts a defensive response that causes symptoms.
Allergy sufferers have a hypersensitive immune system. Ideally, the body’s immune system should be able to recognize what is a harmful, foreign substance and what does not pose a threat. In the case of dander allergies in particular, rather than ignoring the dander, the patient’s body has classified dander as a possibly harmful substance. How badly a person reacts to pet dander usually depends on how hypersensitive their immune system is, and how much dander has accumulated, because it can stick to any object.
Symptoms can range from mild to severe, and can include a runny nose, sneezing, and watery, itchy eyes. Allergic reactions also play a large role in triggering asthmatic attacks. Asthma is the chronic inflammation of the airways, which can make it difficult for the sufferer to breathe. A severe allergic reaction can be life-threatening and can result in anaphylactic reaction or death. An anaphylactic reaction is when the body suffers from an acute reaction, which can entail swollen airways and body parts, nausea, or hives.
When someone who suffers from dander allergies interacts with an animal, or enters the home of a pet owner, he can experience several different types of reactions. For instance, if the dander is inhaled by someone who has severe allergies, it can cause coughing, wheezing and sneezing. This usually occurs within 15 to 30 minutes of inhalation. People who suffer from mild allergies may not show a reaction for a few days after exposure.
There are ways to alleviate pet dander allergies, if a sufferer comes into contact with a pet or dander-filled environment. Sufferers should always wash their hands, faces, or any other body part that touched the pet. Areas where the pet tends to sleep should be washed thoroughly to help eliminate some dander before visitors with allergies enter a home. If necessary, the pet may need to be kept in a different room or location, to prevent a reaction from pet dander allergies.