What Are Uncommon Pet Allergies
Domestication of exotic and wild animals has become quite popular over the past decades. More and more people are trying to domesticate animals like snakes, rabbits, pigs, ferrets, and others, which has led to an increase in allergic reactions to non-traditional pets.
In addition, many people live in smaller apartments nowadays. As a result, the space shared between the pet and owner is limited, which leads to an increased exposure to the pet-related allergens.
Some people believe that certain animals are less likely to trigger allergies, especially those that have less fur. However, according to experts, this theory doesn’t work in practice.
In fact, both traditional and non-traditional pets can trigger similar reactions, leading to the symptoms of allergic rhinitis or asthma. Besides, although the allergenic substances found in different animals can slightly differ, they are still quite similar.
How Do You Develop a Pet Allergy?
Pet allergies are more likely to affect people living in urban environments. If a person gets into contact with domestic pets regularly, they may become sensitive to the allergens found in these pets. In most cases, the reactions are triggered by the particles contained in airborne pet dander.
When the immune system of an allergic person is exposed to pet allergens, it will respond by releasing specific antibodies to protect the body. This results in the development of allergy symptoms. In some cases, these symptoms may be severe and even life-threatening.
What Are the Allergens Found in Non-Traditional Pets?
Research shows that up to 10 percent of the households in the United States have exotic or traditionally non-domesticated pets. Some of the most popular specialty pets include rodents like chinchillas, rats, or jerboas, mammals such as pigs, monkeys, rabbits, or ferrets, as well as reptiles, spiders, amphibians and exotic birds.
While many people believe that allergic reactions to pets are triggered by their hair, pet allergies are actually caused by the particles found in the animal’s urine, saliva, and dander. In fact, pet dander, dead skill cells shedding from animals) is the main trigger of allergies to animals.
The allergenic proteins related to different animals may vary a little bit. However, all the types of pet allergens come from one of the three families of proteins: lipocalin family, serum albumin family, and secretoglobin family.
Lipocalins are found in both vertebrates and invertebrates. If an animal is indoors, these proteins can easily spread around.
Serum albumin is a protein found in vertebrate blood. It is mostly associated with mammals. According to statistics, around 30 percent of pet allergies are caused by this protein.
Secretoglobin is another type of pet allergen. It is found in various animals but is mostly associated with cats.
Thus, as you can see, allergic reactions to pets have quite a similar nature. And even though each pet is unique, their allergens are not.
How Can You Manage a Pet Allergy?
If you think you have a pet allergy, you should arrange a visit to a doctor. Your doctor may suggest that you perform an allergy test to see if your symptoms are actually caused by pet allergens. The test doesn’t necessarily have to involve an allergen from your specific animal or breed. If you do have a pet allergy, you will most likely react to common pet-related allergens as well.
If the test shows that you are allergic, you will need to take certain measures to keep the condition under control. Fortunately, this doesn’t mean that you should get rid of your pet.
If you have a rabbit, ferret or any other caged animal, you may want to keep it outdoors or in the garage. It is important to clean the cage regularly to reduce the number of allergens sticking to the surfaces. Make sure to use rubber gloves and then wash your hands properly with an antibacterial soap.
Washing your pet regularly can prevent the dander from getting airborne. If you can’t bathe your pet often, you can try using a baby wipe.
Some people find it helpful to put an air filter in the bedroom. However, the relief is not guaranteed, as the dander settles very quickly.
If you are thinking to get a pet, you may want consult with an allergist first. The doctor can help to determine the animals that trigger your allergies. This can reduce the risk of getting ill after exposure to the animal.