Are pet allergies real? Are pet allergy claims ‘authentic’? How do allergies to pets work? And does the claim of a persons sudden on set of allergies fly in the face of science?
Play in the mud
Dogs, donkeys, dirt, every parents nightmare OR is it the exposure all kids need to build a healthy immune system? For generations, we’ve been told the virtues of being tough when you spend time playing in mud and grass. Turns out your great grandparents were onto something, take their advice and go play in a sand pit. Our interactions with animals, any furred animal, has changed over time and allergies may be on the rise, because of the proximity to animals as pets.
For a deep dive, we’ll let science explain… An easy to follow study into the rise and origins of allergies to furred animals. https://bit.ly/2SS8pXo 1
We’ve all lamented the life of a “millennia” born child. Germ free screen play, hand sanitiser slathered generation. For the good of their immune systems, take them to the park or an animal shelter to play- You’ll do their mind and body a favour. Science tells us that allergies to pets are from a reaction to animals skin cells, saliva & urine.
If your argument is allergies to animals stop you having one in your home. Then exposure to pets and farm animals at an early age is essential for children to develop immunities to allergens. Before that, it starts in the womb, when expectant mothers are told to rid their homes of pets, they’re essentially being told to remove a vital ‘exposure’ during the neonatal phase.
“These animal allergens are found in the dander, saliva, and urine. They are commonly on small particles that allow airborne dispersion. They also dispersion by circulation of pet allergens on shoes and clothing through public areas and into homes has made it very difficult to control symptoms from pet allergens by avoidance measures such as air cleaning” 2
The study was funded by The National Institutes of Allergens and Infectious Diseases for studies related to the relationships between the human gut microbiome and allergic diseases. 3
Allergy stricken in India?
Estimates put reported pet allergy suffers at 10 million people per year in India. We are a country with a population of 1 billion people it is a small statistic. Unless of course you are one of the sufferers.
Which brings us to the plight of allergy stricken in India. In a country where we live cheek by jowl, (no matter what strata you belong to, or claim to belong to) riddled with stray animals on the streets, in our schools, colleges, government institutions….. how do you get through a day without sneezing yourself into oblivion? It is not uncommon to walk through a government office in India and find a dog or cat curled in a corner, of the office. The same for schools, colleges, private membership clubs, parks.. the list is endless.
Living with Pet Allergies
Our question, if allergies are the product of a reaction to dander, HOW do you avoid it? It’s in the air, on the clothing of a person who has or works with pets or animals. Every person you come into contact with has the potential to be a ‘carrier of dander’. Are the claimants of allergies, “fake reporting?” No, but maybe the degree of ‘allergy’ is the key to your claim of an inability to live with a pet in your home. If you put in the work and keep areas of your home clean the truth is living with animals builds your immunity. The answer is not to rid yourself of interactions with animals, rather, research shows, the more you interact, the better for you!
While we’re on the topic of allergies, remember that as we are affected by internal and external factors, so are your pets. Pets can suffer from allergies related to foods or environment which may adversely affect their health. It is so important to remember that our pets are completely dependant on us for their wellbeing. Allergies in pets can manifest in a number of ways vigilance is the best way to trace and treat the cause of your pets allergy.
Designer dogs and breeds are not necessarily the answer. Ask a medical professional and they will tell you there really is not such thing as a hypoallergenic dog or cat! So maybe instead of reinventing the wheel we stick to our old faithful breeds of Golden retrievers, Labrador Retrievers and German Shepherds! There are hundreds of breeds indigenous to countries and communities which make great pets and working dogs. The advantage of staying local, or at least a breed that has been in a country for a few decades is that the dog better suited to climatic conditions.
From personal experience, I’m here to tell you, as a five year old who was diagnosed as ‘allergic to animals”. At the time, the doctors advice was to stay away from cats and dogs. I played with EVERY cat, dog, cow and donkey I came across. I survived, and it lead to the the best job in the world, working with animals.
Disclaimer: We’re not suggesting serious allergy suffers take unnecessary risks. If you develop severe respiratory disorders, medical advice and intervention are imperative.
Gennaro Liccardi, Gennaro DΓÇÖAmato, Luciana D’Amato, Antonello Salzillo, Amedeo Piccolo, Iolanda De Napoli, Bruno Dente, Mario Cazzola, The effect of pet ownership on the risk of allergic sensitisation and bronchial asthma, Respiratory Medicine, Volume 99, Issue 2,2005, Pages 227-233 ISSN 0954-611 https://doi.org/10.1016/j.rmed.2004.05.012.
2. Ownby D & Johnson CC . Recent Understandings of Pet Allergies (version 1: referees 2:2 approved)