Hypoallergenic pets

Allergies: symptoms, treatment and sublingual immunotherapy - 4 October 2016

Wouldn’t it be great if it were that simple?

The reality is, it is not the length of the cat or dog’s hair that determines to what extent the person with cat or dog allergy will suffer symptoms.

Whether a cat is hairless or not, the protein most commonly responsible for people’s cat allergy actually comes from the sebaceous glands (producing somewhat of a greasy substance) of their skin. This light, sticky protein called Fel d 1 gets readily airborne and contaminates the domestic environment quickly. The production of this allergenic protein is enhanced by the cat’s male hormone. Thus, kittens have little Fel d 1, mature females produce more and mature male even more (unless neutered). There is more on the cat’s chest. Washing the cat barely helps for 24 hours.

And it does not end there! There are other proteins, some from the salivary glands and/or blood that can be responsible for allergic symptoms in given individuals,

In the dog, the most common allergen (Can f 1) comes from the dog’s saliva but other allergens from the blood and from the urine contaminating the hair may be involved as the source of allergy symptoms. Depending on the allergic person’s specific allergy profile, the clinical manifestations of allergy may thus vary quite a lot from one person to the other.

This being said, there is good news nonetheless.

Whereas it used to be systematic for allergists to advise getting rid of the pet, newer forms of immunotherapy may now change the situation. It is always important to have your individual situation reviewed in detail. The safety and practical advantages of sublingual immunotherapy may represent an interesting alternative to many patients for whom getting rid of “a family member” is out of the question. And there are yet even better products showing up on the horizon!

And by the way, you may have heard of vaccines to be eventually given to cats to have them stop causing allergy symptoms in humans. I would not hold my breath…

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