Controlling Environmental Allergens
Mites, Pollen, Molds, & Fungi
Tips Provided By The Heska Allergy Testing Company
In addition to immunotherapy, minimizing your pet’s exposure to environmental allergens such as mites, pollen, molds, and fungi identified during allergy testing may be helpful in managing your pet’s allergy symptoms. It is impossible to avoid and/or eliminate all allergens from the environment, but the combination of immunotherapy, veterinarian provided treatment protocols, and the suggestions below can help minimize your pet’s allergies and improve their quality of life.
The number one cause of a majority of skin allergies in pets is Flea Bite Dermatitis.
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Types of Environmental Allergens
House Dust Mites (Dermatophagoides spp), Storage Mites (Tyrophagus putrescentiae), and other types of Mites exist throughout our environment. These microscopic creatures feed on human and animal dander, skin scales, hair, and mold. They are commonly found in beds, mattresses, carpets, sofas, spoiled foods, grass and leaves, and pet bedding. Mites multiply rapidly in our homes because the temperature and humidity inside are mite-optimum. Mite bodies and Mite feces are the principal source of Mite allergens. Hypersensitivity to Mites is a widespread problem in allergies. Approximately 50-60% of all pets with elevated allergy test results to other allergens also exhibit elevated results to Mites. Immunotherapy can be effective in the reduction of symptoms in patients with Mite allergies. In addition, an effective environmental control regimen can prove useful in minimizing the patient’s discomfort and lessening immediate symptoms.
Pollen allergens come from the grasses, trees, and weeds within our environment, and can be carried great distances on the wind and air currents. Pollen exposure most often occurs through inhalation or absorption through the skin. Avoidance of pollen may be impractical or impossible, but immunotherapy can help desensitize a pet’s immune system to lower their reactivity to pollen. Minimizing your pet’s exposure to pollen can also go a long way to reduce their itchiness.
Mold and Fungi can be found both indoors and outdoors. The most recognizable Fungi are outdoor mushrooms, but many Molds can grow on indoor foods or moist environments within our homes. Pets are most frequently allergic to the microscopic spores Molds and Fungi send out in much the same way plants release pollen. Outdoor spore levels vary season to season, and can cause our pets allergies all year around through exposure to leaf litter, peat moss, mulch, soil, and rotting vegetation. Indoor spore levels vary with the cleanliness and humidity within a household, especially when household equipment such as cool mist vaporizers, furnaces, humidifiers, and air conditioners are in poor repair.
Although it is virtually impossible to totally eliminate all allergens from our environment, we can take steps to minimize their effect on our pets that are allergic. The following suggestions should prove useful in controlling your pet’s discomfort and improving their quality of life. Although some of these suggestions may be difficult to apply to the entire household, it is recommended that at least the main sleeping areas of the allergic pet be maintained according to these specifications:
*The best thing for your pet to control environmental allergy symptoms is to give them a bath very frequently, once to twice a week but up to every day, if symptoms are particularly bad and your pet’s constant scratching is causing self-harm. This will prevent allergen particles from getting trapped in your pet’s fur and lingering on your pet’s skin to cause inflammation and allergic reactions. Brush your pet’s coat daily to remove accumulated allergens, and wipe them down as needed with a damp cloth after trips outside.
*Wash all bedding, stuffed animals, and soft toys, human and pet, weekly or more often, in HOT (130oF) water. Dry on full heat for at least 20 minutes.
*Avoid feather and wool bedding if your pet sleeps with you. Use allergen-proof mattress pads and pillow covers, and encase box springs in vinyl or plastic covers.
*Minimize clutter where dust and mold can collect. Use a damp or oiled rag to dust rather than dry dusting, which can stir up allergen particles, causing them to get trapped in your pet’s fur.
*Change furnace and air conditioning filters frequently. Use filters made for allergen control. Keep your house cool and reduce humidity. Keep household equipment, especially vaporizers, humidifiers, and dehumidifiers, clean and well maintained.
*Vacuum regularly. Use a vacuum with a high efficiency particulate air (HEPA) filter, or a double-layered micro-filter bag.
*Feed only what your pet can eat in approximately 10 to 15 minutes at any one given time. Do not allow food to stay out all day. Wash bowls immediate in hot water with detergent and dry completely before refilling. Discard uneaten food immediately.
*Do not stockpile food, and only keep on hand enough for 30 days at any one time. Check all bags prior to purchase for holes or tears, and discard any food in damaged packaging.
*Store pet foods in airtight containers in a cool, dry environment. Avoid storage of pet foods in garages, sheds, or basements. Wash containers frequently with detergent and hot water, and do not allow the accumulation of crumbs.
*Do not use old or outdated pet food. Check food for dust, mold, or odors, and remove questionable food from the house and discard immediately. Dispose of pet food bags outside of the house.
*Avoid keeping fruit and other foods that can mold on the counter.
*Pay attention to Weather Alerts such as pollen counts or pollution warnings. Pets with environmental allergens benefit from staying indoors with air conditioning during high pollen seasons.
*Maintain short grass in outside environments, and reduce your pet’s ability to rub, brush, or climb underneath any foliage. Do not allow your pet to roll in freshly mowed grass, and keep them out of the yard for at least 2-hours after mowing.
*Identify landscaping and house plants, and remove any plants listed on your pet’s Environmental Allergy Screening Panel as creating an allergic response in your pet from their immediate environment.
*Remove leaves and yard debris frequently, especially in the Fall. Do not allow your pet to play or roll in leaf piles, and if they do, immediately bathe them afterwards. Remove sprouting mushrooms, and any moist, rotting vegetation and wood from the yard as soon as possible.
*Do your best to prevent your pet from being outside during damp or moist weather. If they are, immediately dry them thoroughly as soon as they come inside, paying particular attention to the feet and underside. If need be, you may have to give your pet a bath to prevent chewing and licking of feet due to the irritation of moisture and trapped allergens.
Call 631-696-2400 to schedule your pet for an allergy examination and consultation.