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The protein that causes allergies is found in an animal's saliva, dander and urine. Almost 10 million pet owners – including children – are allergic to their animals.
The fur of a dog or cat can also collect additional allergens, such as pollen and mold spores.
Cats seem to be more allergenic than dogs. Almost all already-allergic people exposed to cats on a regular basis will develop a cat allergy.
If you plan to introduce a pet into your home, have an evaluation by a board-certified allergist, including skin testing. This will tell you for certain what you are allergic to. If you are found to be allergic to dogs or cats, consider immunotherapy (allergy shots). These shots will eventually desensitize you to these animals, so that you may one day be able to have a family pet without compromising your health or well-being.