CLEVELAND — It can be really difficult if people love animals but can’t stop sneezing when they’re around them.
According to Dr. Michael Benninger of Cleveland Clinic, when it comes to pet allergies, dander is likely to blame.
“People are allergic to animal dander,” he said. “The other thing is that animals pick up dust mites, so dust mites may be part of the whole picture, but mostly, it’s a dander issue.”
But luckily, there is a way to drill down to exactly what’s making someone miserable.
Dr. Benninger said with traditional skin allergy testing, most people who test positive for cat also will test positive for dog, but they may be allergic to only one of them.
However, he said advances in allergy testing have made it possible for doctors to figure out exactly which type of animal is causing an allergic reaction.
Component testing is a type of blood test that can help identify specific proteins in animals.
According to Dr. Benninger, there are very specific proteins that are unique to cats and those that are unique to dogs. By learning which protein someone reacts to, they may learn they can have that beloved cat or dog after all.
And even if it is determined that somebody has a dog allergy, he said it’s possible they may be allergic to only male dogs.
“Approximately 40 percent of dog-allergic patients are only allergic to one of those proteins; it happens to be a prostate protein, so it’s only in male dogs,” Dr. Benninger said. “If you’re one of those people who are only allergic to that one component, then you can get a female dog.”
Dr. Benninger said component testing isn’t just for animal allergies — many people use it to detect the severity of their peanut allergy as well.
If a person undergoes a traditional skin test or blood test, and it comes back positive for an allergy, Dr. Benninger said it might be worth undergoing component testing to look further into the allergy and help determine the best course of treatment.