Indoor allergen avoidance/reduction

Avoiding offending allergens should always be considered. Due to the airborne nature of environmental allergens, avoidance may not be possible. In these cases your vet may recommend allergy shots or allergen-specific immunotherapy for your dog or cat.

Click the different sections below for valuable tips on avoiding/reducing moulds, dust mites, storage mites and other indoor allergens that might be present in your pet’s environment.

House Dust Mites

House dust mites are the most common cause of allergy in the UK. These mites are very small and almost transparent. It is dust mite faeces rather than the dust mites themselves that provoke the allergic reaction.

A teaspoon of dust may contain more than 250,000 mite droppings! They prefer warm, humid conditions and live on shed skin and hair from humans and animals, insect scales and fabric particles.

They require moisture from the air to digest this food, so humidity influences the size of the mite populations. Removing dust mites from the environment is impossible, but there are procedures to reduce their presence.

  • Vacuum/dryclean carpets, curtains and upholstery regularly.
  • Use high efficiency vacuum cleaners with brushes that beat the carpet fibres and aid removal of dust and live mites.
  • Turn down the central heating.
  • Use direct heat sources to minimise dust mites – steam cleaning, electric blankets and direct sunlight exposure.
  • Change to alternative flooring i.e wood, vinyl.
  • Change to lightweight, washable curtains, spongeable roller or vertical blinds.
  • Install air conditioning/open windows regularly.
  • Wash your pet’s bedding regularly at hot temperatures or freeze. This includes favourite stuffed toys, e.g. freeze the soft toys for 24 hours to kill the mites then wash in the washing machine to remove the dead mites and droppings.
  • Choose man-made fibres rather than natural.
  • Encase bedding in airtight/plastic covers.
  • Reduce humidity and increase ventilation in the home. This is especially important in the kitchen and bathroom – keep the doors closed to avoid spreading dampness to the rest of the house. Don’t dry clothes indoors, tumble dry instead or use a room not accessible to your pet.
  • Limit your pet’s access to only one room rather than free range in the home.
  • Use chemical methods – a number of insecticides are effective in reducing dust mite levels and in time provide some relief.

The information supplied is intended for guidance only.


Storage Mites

storage mitesWith the increased tendency to use dry cereal-based foods or kibbles, storage mite allergies are becoming more prevalent as a cause of allergy hypersensitivity.

Two of the most common types of storage mite found in the UK are included on the SENSITEST® indoor allergy panel – Acarus siro and Glycophagus destructor.

Storage mites are tiny, white insects that feed on stored foods such as flour, grain and seeds. Management of your pet’s food can greatly reduce their exposure to storage mites.

This involves avoiding the foods where storage mites are known to be prevalent – in particular poorly stored dry complete diets.

Recommendations are to:

  • Always empty the food from the original packaging into resealable plastic containers discarding the dust at the bottom of the bag.
  • Clean these plastic containers regularly, again discarding any dust at the bottom and always do this before adding new food.
  • Keep the food in dry, cool conditions.
  • Purchase only small bags of food rather than large bulk packs to ensure fresher batches are fed.
  • Wipe your pet’s face with a damp cloth when it has finished feeding to remove any food residues.
  • Feed wet/tinned foods.
  • Feed a home prepared diet.
  • Never use any foods after the use by date.

The information supplied is intended for guidance only.

 

Fleas

FleaFleas are a major insect pest to our pets. Not only do they cause discomfort by biting, but they can also transmit disease. The adult is about 2.5mm long, wingless and black/brown in colour, but reddish black when full of blood. The most common culprit of flea allergies is the cat flea Ctenocephalides Felis.

The aim of flea control is to eliminate the adult flea as well as other stages of the life cycle. All control measures used for house dust mites apply to fleas.

There are also a number of flea preparations that can be used on your pet and in the environment. Fleas are easily transmitted from other animals so ensure you have a good flea regime in place, your vet will be pleased to advise you on this.

Top Tip

It is not always easy to see fleas on your pet especially if there are only a few. To check for fleas, wet a piece of white paper and place on the floor. Stand your pet over the paper and groom as normal. Any black specks that appear on the paper with red areas around them are specks of flea dirt and confirm there are fleas present.


Cat Dander

Cat danderIt’s not only people who have allergies to cats – dogs do too!

An allergy to the cat is caused by a protein present in the tiny flakes of dead skin (dander) and the saliva of the cat. The saliva sticks to the fur when the cat grooms itself. The dander becomes airborne and causes irritation either on contact or inhalation.

We recommend the following measures to help reduce your dogs exposure to cat dander:

  • Groom your cat at least once a week either outside or in a well ventilated room away from the dog.
  • Wash the pet’s bedding once a week.
  • Wash your hands in between handling the cat and the dog.

The information supplied is intended for guidance only.

 

What is a mould?

A mould or fungus is a microscopic, plant like organism that grows on organic material.

They are found throughout the natural world, and are essential for the recycling of organic material in our forests, lawns and gardens. They all require a relatively damp environment to grow. Many moulds reproduce by releasing spores into the air, which then settle on organic matter and grow into new mould clusters. These airborne mould spores are far more numerous than pollen.

Penicillum mix

Penicillum is also an airborne allergen spread by the wind and insects.

Places where it is commonly found are:

  • Carpets/textiles
  • House dust
  • Behind paint
  • Wallpaper
  • Water damaged buildings
  • Moist chipboard
  • Soil
  • Decaying plant debris (compost heap)

It can be found in rotting fruit, dried foodstuffs, cheese, dry cereals and nuts so care should be taken when feeding these. Penicillum is also a food source for Storage Mites.


Alternaria tenuis

This is one of the most common airborne allergens and is spread via the wind.

Places where it is commonly found are:

  • Carpets/textiles
  • Window frames
  • Soil
  • Decaying plant debris (compost heap)

It can also be a foliar disease of the carrot and so care should be taken if feeding carrots to ensure they are mould free.


Aspergillus mix

Aspergillus is also airborne and spread by the wind.

Places where it is commonly found are:

  • Stored grain/cereals
  • Fruit and foods
  • Leather
  • Wool/cotton
  • Soil
  • Decaying food/plant debris (compost heap)
  • Hay

This mould is especially prevalent in the autumn and winter months.

General Tips on Reducing Moulds

Moulds mainly flourish in damp, dark and warm places.

Here are some tips on how to reduce moulds in your home:-

  • Keep bathrooms and areas where laundry is done well ventilated.
  • Don’t allow mould to form e.g. around baths or on shower curtains.
  • Dry shoes outside.
  • Check any food sources – ensure they are kept in dry conditions and there is no sign of mould or rot especially on fruit and vegetables.
  • Treat any damp walls with a mould inhibitor.
  • Avoid indoor plants especially those kept in ‘greenhouse’ type conditions in a conservatory.
  • Remove any damp carpets.
  • Avoid heavy vegetation around or over the house e.g. ivy and other climbing plants.
  • Keep the garden free of fallen leaves and other garden debris e.g. grass clippings.
  • Ensure the compost heap is well covered and restrict your pets access.
  • Keep all pet beds, coats etc in a dry environment and keep clean.

Please note: This serves as a guide to the most common mould allergens and how to avoid them. The information supplied is intended for guidance only.

The cost of your test and any treatment may be covered by your pet insurance.

Please check with your vet and insurance company for details.