The Long-Term Effects of Pet Dander: What You Need to Know

Ongoing (chronic) inflammation of the nasal cavity tissues caused by pet allergy can clog the hollow cavities connected to the nasal passages (paranasal sinuses). These obstructions can increase the chances of developing bacterial sinus infections, such as sinusitis. If you get a runny nose, your eyes water, or you start to sneeze and wheeze after petting or playing with a dog or cat, you probably have a pet allergy. Allergy to cats can cause constant allergic symptoms, since exposure can occur at work, school, daycare, or other indoor environments, even if a cat is not present.

If your nose is runny or you start sneezing and wheezing after petting or playing with a dog, you may be allergic to dogs. Animal dander is one of the most common allergens in the world. Pet allergies often cause upper and lower respiratory tract problems, such as congestion, sneezing, runny nose, chest tightness, and wheezing. Other symptoms include watery eyes, itching, and eczema or skin rashes.

It's essential to understand the long-term effects of pet dander on your health. Pet dander can not only cause itchy eyes and a runny nose but can also harm the respiratory system. According to the American Lung Association, this can “lead to a decrease in the ability of the lungs to function”. This is why it's important to take steps to limit your exposure to pet dander. Pet dander consists of microscopic patches of skin shed by cats, dogs, rodents, birds, and other animals with fur or feathers.

Pet allergy can cause constant allergic symptoms since exposure can occur at work, school, daycare, or other indoor environments even if a pet isn't present. If you can't avoid being around the animal, you can prevent pet dander from remaining by making sure that all furniture, rugs, and clothing are cleaned immediately and often after contact. Because of how light and small pet dander is, it can remain suspended in the air for a long period of time and can easily adhere to furniture, bedding, fabrics, and many other household items. An overly sensitive immune system reacts to the harmless proteins in pet dander and can cause blood vessels to expand triggering an allergic reaction that causes sneezing attacks or the appearance of itchy or watery hives in the eyes and nose. Animal dander can be found even in homes and buildings without pets because of how quickly allergens spread.

Tips for Reducing Your Exposure to Pet Dander

To reduce your exposure to pet dander:
  • Keep pets outdoors as much as possible
  • Keep pets away from carpets and furniture
  • Wash sofa covers, pillows, curtains, and pet beds frequently
  • Vacuum carpets regularly
  • Use air purifiers with HEPA filters
  • Avoid physical contact with pets
By taking these steps you can reduce your exposure to pet dander and minimize its long-term effects on your health. It's important to remember that physical contact with pet dander can cause contact dermatitis, skin rash, hives, or cause asthma in a person.