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Dog and Cat Allergy Studies

There is so much mis-information out there about dog and cat allergies and the TRUE effectiveness of certain things (like adding a HEPA purifier and keeping the animal out of the bedroom, and covering mattresses/pillows) on the ACTUAL allergic/ asthmatic person's disease (not just lowering levels of allergen in the bedroom which it might do in some circumstances, but even if it did THAT DOES NOT MEAN the allergic person in the home is being helped at all by this HEPA purifier in their room when a dog or cat is present in the home. In truth they are NOT being helped, and by not pursuing what us really helpful–which is to not live with a pet they are allergic to– they are being harmed).

There are studies out there that show this, such as this one quoted and linked below:

"In summary, we have shown that airborne Fel d 1 levels can be reduced in cat-containing homes by using a HEPA cleaner in the bedroom, keeping the cat out of the bedroom, and using mattress and pillow covers. However, despite the resulting reductions in airborne allergen with these measures, there were no significant improvements in any measure of disease activity in our study. This suggests that even reduced levels of exposure, especially when combined with ongoing high-level exposure to cat allergen elsewhere in the home, are still sufficiently high to induce significant allergic inflammation in both the upper and lower airway. Removal of animal(s) from the home remains the only certain way to reduce exposure for patients with ongoing disease related to their pet cat(s)."

And yet people are SO PET-CRAZY (and not in a good way)… I am sorry, it is not worth it to torture an individual (yourself or others). I had such a hard time fighting for my life and health because we had to try all these things that do not work. And I had a heart attack from allergic eosinophils surrounding my heart, eosinophils created in response to allergy from cats and dogs in my living environment… And I nearly died and am disabled now. And now I don't want to be around cats and dogs and I keep hearing misinformation.  Putting the animal in another room does not help. I am so sick of hearing these things because they are not backed up by studies and people are getting hurt, hurting others, hurting themselves. In some cases even doctors give out these myths to not lose patients, they might say "ohhh you can keep the dog and try this" when no that is not what should be recommended by REALITY.. And that is not consensus AT ALL. I am sorry. Sensitive topic. But what I say is the truth. 

It is hard for me. I cannot fly in the US, not even in Canada airlines anymore which used to try to accomodate people with allergies and asthma:

"Seating passengers with allergies away from pets is not a realistic alternative. Pet dander remains on seats long after the pet and its owner have gone. One study identified clinically relevant concentrations of cat allergen on 100% of sampled airplane seats on domestic flights and 16% of seats on international flights.  Moreover, flights are usually filled to capacity, and airlines have not created mechanisms to facilitate last-minute seat changes.

On Jan. 7, 2010, the Canadian Transportation Agency ruled that people with allergies to nuts should be considered to have a disability under the Canada Transportation Act and must therefore be accommodated. The agency is now reviewing passenger complaints about pets on airplanes and determining whether those with allergies to pets should also be considered as having a disability.

Such a finding would force Canadian airlines to safeguard passengers with allergies to pets. If the agency does not rule for the passengers, the House of Commons Standing Committee on Health, which heard a briefing on this issue last fall, should take up the cause.

Air travel is an important and often necessary part of life and business, especially in large countries like Canada. People with allergies should be able to fly without placing their health at risk and must not be prevented from travelling for fear of being confined close to a pet.

The preferences of pet owners should not supersede the well-being of their fellow passengers. Pets can be accommodated comfortably and safely in airplane cargo holds, which is where they belong. Airlines must choose to put the needs of their human passengers first, or be forced to do so."

 

I am so sick of misinformation and pet therapy emotional animals somhiw overtaking truth and well-being of human beings (a large amount of us are allergic and consistent exposure even to lower levels of dander left from pets or carried on clothing negatively affects us, as can be seen from studies such as this one:

"In conclusion, our findings suggest that asthmatic children allergic to cat suffer a worsening of their disease in relation to indirect exposure to cat at school start. This is most likely the result of significant exposure to allergens that give rise to airway inflammation after a period of nonexposure. It would be of considerable interest to look into possible intervening measures, preferably to take steps to minimize the amount of allergen brought to school in cat owners' clothing, a major source of cat allergen."

 

So.. Why is this information so ignored? Why is there so much mis-infornation out there? Why aren't there protections in place and practices in place to help those with dander allergies? And does anyone else find this frustrating?

 

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Comments 10

  • Melissa G

    Shea, I am so sorry. I don't know what the answers are. I get frustrated too since my kids have life threatening food allergies and in some instances they are not taken seriously. 

  • LK

    Shea,   Very interesting articles. I wish I had an answer for you.  It is hard to deal with all my limitations.  I can't imagine how I would deal with it if it were one of my children or my grandchild and I was responsible for.

    Sometimes it is just the plain simple fact that people do not know what they do not know.  In this case they do not know and perhaps do not even know to ask that animal dander can have such a dramatic negative impact on people who are allergic.  I freely admit that until I had asthma I did not know how severe it can be.  I did not know, until I started reading these forums, how severe animal allergies could be.

    Perhaps part of it is most folks do not want to face reality if it means having to lose something – a pet, etc.  I still remember telling our kids when they asked what would we do with our large dog (who was not used to going down the basement stairs) and the horses if a tornado ever came.  There is an ongoing debate in the horse world whether horses are safer in their stalls in the barn or in a large pasture during a tornado.  I told them that WE as human beings were more important than our animals no matter how much we loved them, since the Good Lord created us in him image and sent his Son to die for us.  I am sure our kids thought I was being unreasonable because they kept trying to figure out ways we could get the animals to safety.  

    Of course if we had plenty of time we would do what we could for the animals but in the final analysis humans are more important than animals.

    I understand true service animals like seeing eye dogs are necessary and vital for the people who need them.  I have known a few blind people who were able to lead more normal lives because of the assistance of their guide dogs. 

    Perhaps another reason is that people like us who have severe asthma or severe allergies try NOT to be a burden to others or are reluctant to make our needs known.  For myself, I haven't flown in years because of the fear of being stuck in an airplane with the smell of someones strong perfume inundating me for hours.  The thought of it is enough to make me not visit our DD even though I would love to see where she lives.  

    Perhaps there are other like me so the airlines therefore have even less of a reason to change their policies. 

  • LK

    As far as the allergens in a school setting that would seem to be quite a challenge to control.  With so many kids coming from so many different homes or day cares where they may be exposed to and therefore bring with them many allergens it would be a daunting task.  Perhaps someone smarter than me already has a method of reducing the allergens in such a setting.

  • Marie E Natzke

    Shea, LK, Melissa,

     Yes Shea I'm upset too. I can no longer fly on a plane because of all the animals including true service animals. A service animal is still an animal and I'm still allergic. My allergic response will be the same to a pet or service animal. And no, it is not a fear of animals. And no,  asthma is not an emotional problem. Asthma is a disease. 

    Whats the driving force behind allowing so many pets all over the place. Money. The loss of revenue. People want in on the cash cow. Pet smart started this by allowing pets in the stores. I realize some of them may have grooming areas? I've never been so I wouldn't know. 

    I never told my full story for fear of the backlash. Before I was born my parents got a dog. Beautiful german shepard. Silver and Black. Her name was Cindy. When I came along and my parents brought me home from the minute Cindy saw me I was hers. No one outside the immediate family could touch me without her permission. She was my best friend. Where one was the wasn't far behind. I began to have breathing problems and the Dr felt it was croup. As I got older and the breathing problems continued Cindy would keep watch during the night. When I was bad she would wake my Mom. 

    One day when I was about 4 my parents decided to get new carpeting. Back then horse hair was used as a cushion under the carpets. Cindy and I had a blast rolling around in the floors. That night Cindy pulled my Mom out of bed. I was having a bad asthma attack and was turning blue. They rushed  me to the hospital. Dr told my parents for sure now they had to remove Cindy from our home.  My Dad went to the vet. He told my Dad the most humane thing to do for Cindy was put her down. He said whenever my parents would board her she would eat only drink water. She always knew when we were coming home for that morning she would eat. How she knew this we will never know. She would have made a great service animal for someone. And in some ways she was for me. Only she was the cause of my attacks. To this day it still hurts me that she had to go. That's a wound that never heals. That's why the attitude and comments your just saying that because your scared of animals angers me no end. The vet told my Dad she would either pine away. Or Turn mean. They wanted Cindy safe. So the decision was made. They did this before I came home from the hospital. When I got home I cried for her and looked all over for her. My friend was gone. 

    Today I was at the mall in the parking lot getting out of the car I saw someone with a Siberian husky. Don't know if it was a service animal Or if they were really in the mall. Don't know where they went. Too much traffic in the way to see.

    As far as schools. I think my God child is having that problem. He is also highly allergic to dogs. He keeps getting  sick like clockwork. Every 3 weeks or so. My cousin hasn't taken him yet to see allergist. I don't know why she's waiting so long.  I think he's coming in contact with animals dander at school from the kids clothes.

    There is no such thing as growing out of your allergies. They may change, lessen or get worse but they are always there hiding. Waiting for the right time when they get triggered off. I'm living proof of that.

  • LK

    Marie,  Thank you for sharing your story.  Your family's dog sounds like she was a wonderful friend and guardian.  That must have been such a heart wrenching decision but the best one for your sake.    

  • Melissa G

    Marie if my comment offended you I am truly sorry, please know that was not my intent. My dh is severely allergic to cats so I do understand the animal dander issues. My youngest dd has multiple life threatening food allergies in which she is also contact allergic to many foods. She has broken out on her hands and arms even while in her wheelchair, her wheelchair wheels would pick up crumbs from the floor and then they would get on her hands and fore arms. We ended up having to get her gloves to wear to protect her. She even reacted in the PACU after surgery because a nurse grabbed a quick snack in between patients and only used hand sanitizer and didn't wash her hands. Rebekah broke out in full body hives. The nurse felt horrible, I can't blame her for wanting a snack, they were extremely busy that day and she had missed lunch. As animal dander is every where, so is food residue. 

    Again, please accept my apologies if I offended you. 

  • Shea

    Thank you Melissa and Marie for sharing your stories. And thank you Lisa for your comments as well. 

    I understand that it is not an easy decision–to rehome or put fiwn a pet. That is why it is so important that allergists and doctors tell the truth to the family about the effect living with the pet can have on an asthmatic/allergic individual instead of perpetuating un-truths. 

    Marie, I am so glad your parents made that decision and kept you safe, even though I know it was hard. I am glad the doctor did not say "buy expensive purifiers, spend your entire day cleaning and avoiding contacting the pet, have someone else eash the pet three times a week" (and even if you do those things you will still have just as bad disease because the dander is in the air, in the clothes, coming off tbe pet, constant, and the studues above say the actual human is not being heloed by these measures) and it will actualky take 6 months after the pet leaves fir tbe dander to clear from the home enough fir the allergic person to stop reacting, and often requires removal of carpet and mattresses as well.  

    Sometimes rehoming is an option, but sometimes it is not and then the most compassionate choice can be made. 

    Lisa is right that human lives are so valuable, and even to those who believe animals are equals, we would not put an animal around something we knew gave it breathing attacks and a worse quality of life. So we should not do it to ourselves or our family members. 

    I am mostly concerned about the home and direct exposure to animals in confined environments such as school and work environments, hotels and planes, restaurants, grocery stores, hospitals and doctors offices, Ubers, inpatient centers, dorm rooms… It is just such a widespread issue really when you see the sheer number of (mostly) dogs infiltrating all these environments. 

    Ignorance. Certainly. But many people are unaware of eachothers disabilities and it just doesnt seem like anyone takes allergies or asthma seriously but the second someone says "ooooh an Uber driver wouldn't let a (non-seeing-eye but some sort of unverifiable emotional support dog) dog in their car!", the news is on and discrimination suits filed, and the driver (who may be allergic or may just not want a strange dig in their car while theyre driving).. is fired and treated like some whiny dog-hater when that is NOT the truth. 

    Ignorance would be a lot less if more information on websites and the internet supported the real studies on those with allergic asthma triggered by cat and or dog dander and if people knew these diseases can be deadly, should be respected and treated as disabilities, and reasinable accomodations need to be made.

    Animal-free environments IS a reasonable request. And Id pay more even if I had to for that… For an airplane reserved as animal-free seating. (Or to make it even more appealing a clean-air plane, building, or wing, that is scent-free and food-free as well). 

    As for second-hand dander in schools, the study I found says:

    "For the first time, it has been shown that levels of airborne cat allergen can be reduced by allergen avoidance measures at school by using school clothing or pet ownership ban, and that both measures are equally efficient. The clinical effect of these interventions remains to be evaluated."

    It seems clothing is duch a trigger that having gym lockers and school clothes would be a good way to help. Reserving classrooms for those with allergies/asthma could also be helpful– in those classrooms extra measures could be taken:

    Animal-free

    Pet-ownership- free OR change into school clothes

    No food in the classroom

    Scent-free and green cleaning products only

     

    It wouldnt be hard for people to start accomodating those with allergies and asthma and treating them humanely and compassionately. 

  • K8sMom2002

    Hugs to all — it's hard when genuine disabilities interfere with one another. It's also really frustrating when people try to game the system, especially when it comes to pets in public places. 

    We have been very lucky that our allergies and asthma don't require us to give up our pets, but we know that's not the case for many people. Shea has done a tremendous job of teaching me how to minimize the impact of my pets on people with severe dander allergies. 

    Marie, hugs on losing a beloved friend! Even if it was the best for you, it was still a hard loss, I'm sure, especially as a child. 

    For those of you who are struggling when flying, or who are afraid to fly because of the many, many companion animals, the US Department of Transportation is currently accepting comments on new proposed rules. Those rules would allow as many as two animals per person on planes. 

    Here's the link to the DOT comment page on the . Comments should be filed by July 9, 2018.

    It would be great, too, if you sent those same comments to AAFA's and let AAFA know that you had posted them on the DOT page. 

  • Shea

    I think it is good that allergic asthma can be seen as a disability, and it is good for people to recognize the issues dander brings to workers and customers with allergic asthma, the doctors standing up to pressure and sticking to the studies we do have and maki g recommendations based on them and not pandering to what the patient wants but actually stating the facts and being brave enough to say:

    Avoiding exposure to pets is the best remedy for pet allergy. 

    Which is the consensus among doctors nd research out there today.