What Is Dog Dander?

Max is constantly shedding dander, but you can work to minimize dander at home.

Max is constantly shedding dander, but you can work to minimize dander at home.

Dogs bring lots of joy and laughter into the lives of their people with their silly antics and sweet puppy dog eyes. They also may bring loads of dander along with them -- it can get everywhere in the household and even on your clothing. Dander may pose allergens to people, but it doesn't mean you have to part ways with your best buddy even if you are allergic to his dander.

Dander Basics

Dander is, in a nutshell, scales of dead skin that your dog constantly is shedding away and sloughing off. This is a natural process. His dander may contain proteins that cause allergies. These allergenic proteins also may be found in his saliva, sebaceous cells and urine. Dander can be found in a wide array of household pets besides your dog. Cats, rodents, rabbits, guinea pigs and birds all shed dander.

Dander and Allergy Myths

Dander can be found in pet hair, but pet hair itself does not cause allergies. The length of fur on your dog will not decrease the amount of dander that is shed, nor will it prevent allergies from occurring in people. Some dogs, such as poodles, which are sometimes classified as hypoallergenic, may pose less of an allergy irritation in people, but there are no guarantees. No dog is completely hypoallergenic. Some dogs may be less likely to cause allergies in their people, but it is often on an individual basis. You need to spend time with the dog to know if you will have an allergic reaction or not.

Decreasing Dander

If dander is the culprit in your household for allergy issues, ask your veterinarian to prescribe a shampoo that can be used on your dog once a week without causing him to get dry, itchy skin. Your veterinarian also can suggest a product that you can wipe your dog with that works to prevent dander from building up. You can wipe him with this from time to time to keep dander from getting in the house in between bath time. Brush your dog often and do so outdoors. Brushing outdoors will prevent more dander from getting in your home environment. Keep an eye out for dermatitis. Signs of dermatitis would include irritation, redness and excessive flaky skin. Your dog also may itch and scratch more than normal.

Household Dander Tips

To keep your house clean and dander free, it will require a little extra effort, but take a look at Max and you'll be reminded that it's worth the effort. Vacuum often and if possible, use a HEPA filter. They work to decrease allergens in the environment. Choose pet bedding that are washable and wash them often to get rid of dander. Dust throughout the house on a regular basis to eliminate dander that may have settled in the environment. You also may want to invest in a HEPA air purifier. Remember to change the filter regularly.

 

About the Author

Pamela Miller has been writing for health, beauty and animal health/welfare publications for seven years. Miller holds a Bachelor of Science in Organizational Communication from MTSU.

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