What Is Pet Dander?

By Ellie Williams

Pet dander is composed of tiny flecks of skin shed by cats and dogs or any animal with feathers or fur. Even animals with short hair, or those who are hairless, produce dander and release it into the environment. The Asthma and Allergy Foundation of America notes between 15 and 30 percent of allergy sufferers experience an adverse response to pet dander.

About Pet Dander

Dander can stick to surfaces and remain in the environment for months, in addition to clinging to clothing and being transferred to other areas. It’s so easily tracked it can be found in environments where there are no animals, simply by having been transferred there from someone who was in an environment where pet dander was present.

Effects of Pet Dander

For people who are allergic to it, or those with asthma, pet dander is potentially dangerous. Inhaling it can cause breathing problems or worsen existing respiratory difficulties and severely impair lung function. Symptoms of an allergic reaction include sneezing, runny nose, skin problems, watery eyes, wheezing, congestion and tightness in the chest. In some people, only a significant exposure causes a reaction, while in others even a miniscule amount could trigger an attack. For people with extreme sensitivity, as little as 15 to 30 minutes can produce a severe response.