Animal allergy symptoms and what are the causes

The animal allergies is one triggered by serum, secretions direct contact or aspiration of small traces of urine sebaceous glands and salivary or excreta from animals and contain the causative allergens from the onset of symptoms of rhinoconjunctivitis, asthma bronchial, urticaria and even anaphylactic shock.

Allergens penetrate the organism of the allergic individual and produce a hypersensitivity reaction through the production of IgE-type antibodies that, when reacting, cause the release of histamine and other inflammatory mediators in the nasal, ocular or bronchial mucosa and subsequently the appearance of typical allergy symptoms.

This affects the quality of life of patients, producing alterations in sleep rhythm, irritability, difficulty in concentration, reduction and limitation of physical activity due to exhaustion, deterioration of school and work performance, requires recurrent medical treatment, and frequently attend medical consultations and emergency services.

What are the causes of animal allergies?

Animals that have hair are the main causes of allergy, but it has also been evidenced in contact with animals with feathers and scales in the case of reptiles. The latter being rare.

366 species of animals capable of triggering allergic reactions in humans have been described. Cats and dogs are the most common because they are the most popular pets, however, allergies have been described in other animal species such as horses, rabbits, guinea pigs, hamsters, rats, mice, gerbils, chinchillas, ferrets, squirrels , birds, and reptiles, etc.

There are hereditary factors that predispose you to suffer from allergies to animals . A family history of allergies increases the risk of allergy development in children.

The possibility of developing allergies will depend on the frequency with which the person is exposed to the animal. The greater the exposure to the animal, the probability of becoming allergic will increase. However, a subject can become allergic to animals with which they have never been in contact, this because the allergens of the animals remain in tiny particles smaller than 5 microns floating in the air for a long time and are widely spread ease in the environment, in addition to the fact that they can be transported in fomites such as clothing and on human hair, being able to become sensitized if they frequent places with a sufficient concentration of allergens.

In some cases, it is not the animal that triggers the reaction but the environment that surrounds it, the presence of ticks or another infestation of parasites, as well as the development of mites that feed on the desquamation of the animal’s skin or fungi. that surround humid environments.

Dog and cats

Hair is not the main cause of atopy to animals but to allergens present in dander particles and in the salivary and sebaceous glands. When these cells are shed, microscopic particles are formed that remain suspended in the air and can last for long periods of time, when they are inhaled they produce respiratory and eye symptoms.

Hair can also cause allergies but to a lesser extent since it is deposited on the ground and does not remain in the air. In the case of cats, the probability of developing bronchial asthma if people are allergic to this animal is between 4 and 6 times higher than in non-atopic ones.


In the case of rodents, their urine is the main source of allergens, it remains attached to the dust particles when it dries and they remain in the environment.


There are documented cases of rhinitis and asthma due to bird feathers. This allergy has been shown to be due to mites that colonize the feathers.

There are several cases described of another respiratory condition called hypersensitivity pneumonitis produced by the feathers and droppings of birds, which frequently afflicts poultry farmers, the clinical manifestations that occur are dry cough, difficulty breathing, chills, fever and general discomfort, these appear approximately 4 – 6 hours after contact with the birds.


Isolated cases of allergy to frogs, iguanas, lizards among other reptiles have been described. The scales that these give off can cause allergic reactions.

By Dr. Eric Jackson

Dr. Eric Jackson provides primary Internal Medicine care for men and women and treats patients with bone and mineral diseases, diabetes, heart conditions, and other chronic illnesses.He is a Washington University Bone Health Program physician and is a certified Bone Densitometrist. Dr. Avery is consistently recognized in "The Best Doctors in America" list.

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