8

votes

Could an allergy to pets be related to their diet? (EDIT)

Answered on August 19, 2014
Created February 06, 2012 at 9:16 PM

This is kind of off the top of my head, but I have been reading various articles related to gluten intolerance in pets and how grains are just as bad for them as they are for humans, yet I can't seem to find anyone specifically addressing how a pet's diet might play a role in human allergies to them.

My girlfriend has two cats that I have had allergy troubles with (I have always had allergies to cats and dogs), though my reaction to them seems to have diminished since I began eating Paleo three months ago. We have a 12' x 16' Florida room on the back of the house where they stay, but they do come inside occasionally. Up until recently I really had noticeable issues with them even if I never touched them, which I rarely did. Eating Paleo seems to have helped me with some of that, and in the meantime we've been sharing more table scraps while we research raw diet info for them. Our thought is to continue to get ourselves on track all the way first, with the idea to eventually shift them over to a diet that's more natural for them as well.

The common prescription for pet allergies is to simply avoid contact with the problematic animal(s), but I'm now curious to find out if removing commercial pet junk food and feeding them their natural diet might have any effect. Thinking about all of this and reading the ingredients on regular canned cat food has led me to an interesting line of questioning:

If a cat or dog eats commercial pet food containing wheat gluten and/or other grains, is there a possibility that it could be transferred through their dander as a grain-specific allergen to humans?

In other words, is it possible that gluten-sensitive individuals might react more to the dander of pets that consume wheat than to those which do not?

Could eliminating grains from our pet's diet be beneficial not only to them, but to us, especially those of us more sensitive to grains?

Is it possible that a pet allergy could even be a secondary indicator of gluten-sensitivity?

Could the pet allergies of an estimated 10-30% of people be linked to underlying grain and/or other food/chemical allergies which may be manifesting as secondary reactions to specific ingredients in neolithic pet food?

EDIT: Thanks for the answers so far, James, Jenny, Marie, Doug, Shah78. I am definitely asking about a connection between pet diet and pet dander and how it may cause an allergic reaction in people, but I'm specifically interested in those of us who may be more sensitive to wheat gluten than usual. In the post How Do You React to Gluten? many PH'ers noted how they react to various levels of gluten exposure and of course, the answers vary widely.

I know it's a stretch, but I'm basically just wondering if it is even possible to react to gluten through exposure to the dander from pets that eat it.

518bce04b12cd77741237e1f61075194

(11577)

on February 07, 2012
at 06:56 PM

Also, for the celiacs, if you were a super-sensitive celiac then grooming post-meal cats could potentially transfer gluten-containing particulates onto their fir, which could then be shed. This would be very miniscule- the trace amounts of food left after swallowing/chewing/drinking. You would have to have serious gluten spidey sense to react to it, but anythings possible! If you think of it in terms of "replace wheat flour with peanut flour in pet food" would someone w/a peanut allergy react? Usually only if they were anaphylactic. So, I would think it to behave similarly.

518bce04b12cd77741237e1f61075194

(11577)

on February 07, 2012
at 06:52 PM

Sorry, I guess I meant to say by "dander" I mean skin/saliva particulates (why cats cause a stronger allergic reaction than dogs, they are just so into cleaning!). The hair does cause irritation through texture and is usually the transport-object for dander. That is why hairless dogs/cats cause less allergic reaction (no hair, less cleaning, less dander) and why "hypoallergenic" pets work (less shedding of dander, as well as less cleaning required for the coat). I should have clarified that, I was being very general, sorry.

Ce41c230e8c2a4295db31aec3ef4b2ab

(32556)

on February 07, 2012
at 05:43 PM

Actually, Jenny, the allergen is in the saliva of the animals, it's not the fur itself that is a problem.

Medium avatar

(4878)

on February 07, 2012
at 04:03 AM

I wasn't commenting on the lowered allergenic response to some breeds, just the nomenclature of hypoallergenic. One of the issues with any hybrid is the inconsistency of the F2 breedings and the lack of understanding most BYBs have regarding WHY their two F1 dogs produced an F2 litter with extreme variations. It is one of the reasons you'll find few +F4 doodles. (Oh, and there is nothing wrong with doodles, puggles, maltipoos, bullboxers, etc. All dogs are great, but the people who breed them without knowledge of conformation, temperament, and basic genetics are not...)

0df0b1c6ae16bbb75b4a5efa3d876765

(2240)

on February 07, 2012
at 02:28 AM

Good info, I'll have to look into the hygiene hypothesis a bit. Maybe I need to revise or clarify part of my original question, but I wonder what you and others think about Celiacs specifically, or anyone with a noticeably higher intolerance to wheat or gluten. Is it possible to still react to it through a pet's dander if the pet is consuming gluten? I've noticed the level of sensitivity to gluten varies widely amongst PH'ers, according to many of the posts I've read about it so far. Some people not being able to even walk into a Subway without feeling "glutened".

0df0b1c6ae16bbb75b4a5efa3d876765

(2240)

on February 07, 2012
at 02:20 AM

LOL no thanks! I haven't built up the courage to rub my face on any of them yet just to test if Paleo is beefing up my allergy resistance, since just petting them and forgetting to wash my hands before touching my face (or worse, rubbing my EYES!) has often caused sneezing fits and sometimes difficulty breathing.

0df0b1c6ae16bbb75b4a5efa3d876765

(2240)

on February 07, 2012
at 02:15 AM

Yes, very interesting!

0df0b1c6ae16bbb75b4a5efa3d876765

(2240)

on February 07, 2012
at 02:14 AM

Thanks for chiming in everyone! I was typing to share the wiki link before the other comments came in. I've noticed before that I don't have as much issue with certain individual pets versus others, but it's never with any rhyme or reason. I had a friend once with a hairless cat and that cute lil' Rat Cat (my nickname for him) aggravated my allergies way more than some of the hairier ones, so I've always just been cautious about getting to close to any of them.

0df0b1c6ae16bbb75b4a5efa3d876765

(2240)

on February 07, 2012
at 02:09 AM

Marie, that is the general consensus I actually noticed in a few sources. Here's ol' Wikipedia: "Though some studies suggest the possible existence of hypoallergenic dog breeds, there is too much variability to conclude that such a breed exists" https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Hypoallergenic_dog_breed

518bce04b12cd77741237e1f61075194

(11577)

on February 07, 2012
at 02:03 AM

Not too strange, even in Europe and NA our grandparents were exposed to much higher levels of parasites than we are today, which primed their IgE to respond appropriately to external stimuli. We are babies of filtered water and sanitary conditions, so while many lives have been saved we have the side effect of an inappropriately responding immune system that doesn't know what is and is not a parasitic worm.

518bce04b12cd77741237e1f61075194

(11577)

on February 07, 2012
at 02:02 AM

I think it is just a dander/hair issue, my dad is totally fine with any poodle-type breed, but he dies when a short-haired lab is in the area. My totally paleo cat also makes him break out in hives within moments. I don't think it's too promising a theory based on just that personal experience, but there's also anecdotes=/=epidemiology.

5e36f73c3f95eb4ea13a009f4936449f

(8280)

on February 07, 2012
at 02:01 AM

On the other hand, they feed their dogs a vegetarian diet because it's "better" for them. Not the best idea IMHO, but again, pick your battles. They're not my dogs.

518bce04b12cd77741237e1f61075194

(11577)

on February 07, 2012
at 02:00 AM

Haha, this made me think of my paleo kitty and my very-allergic dad. He said his hives breakout was "more robust than ever" after an afternoon with her. Just mentioned it on the phone.

5e36f73c3f95eb4ea13a009f4936449f

(8280)

on February 07, 2012
at 01:59 AM

My grandmother used to get hives from eating raw tomatoes. She ate them anyways. She made it to her 80's.

5e36f73c3f95eb4ea13a009f4936449f

(8280)

on February 07, 2012
at 01:58 AM

Hrm, I don't know. A coworker's husband is fairly allergic to dogs and they have a couple dogs they say are "hypoallergenic" and he has no problems with them. I've been in their house, and he's not the hypochondriac type. Could be it's all in his mind, but I don't know that I'd want to bring it up and cause problems, lol. For their purposes it's working fine.

0df0b1c6ae16bbb75b4a5efa3d876765

(2240)

on February 07, 2012
at 01:55 AM

Hi Marie, I agree about the grandparents thing. Strange, isn't it?

518bce04b12cd77741237e1f61075194

(11577)

on February 07, 2012
at 01:53 AM

Hm, but my dad has severe allergies to all "hairy" pets, and has been fine with our doodle for the last few years? It has more to do with the hair and dander.

Medium avatar

(4878)

on February 07, 2012
at 01:20 AM

BTW, there is no such thing as a hypoallergenic pet. It is a big marketing scam. The "doodle" thing, just like the Puggles, was a way for breeders (BYBs) to make money off mutts. http://healthland.time.com/2011/07/08/the-myth-of-the-hypoallergenic-dog/

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5 Answers

2
461ab9dd60f3c07b5153c6a699e6155f

on February 06, 2012
at 10:00 PM

My Naturopath has cats that her husband used to be allergic to. Since switching the cats to a real food (basically Paleo for Cats) diet, her husband's allergies to their cats have disappeared. He is still allergic to other people's cats, but not his own Paleo cats. Interesting, no?

0df0b1c6ae16bbb75b4a5efa3d876765

(2240)

on February 07, 2012
at 02:15 AM

Yes, very interesting!

1
77877f762c40637911396daa19b53094

(78467)

on February 06, 2012
at 09:56 PM

I really like your theory. Come over to our house and rub your face in our Paleo Cat's fur. (She actually has an amazingly pleasant smell, by the way!)...... Seriously find a paleo cat in your city and check out your theory. I'd bet 50-50, you are on to something. Where do you live?

518bce04b12cd77741237e1f61075194

(11577)

on February 07, 2012
at 02:00 AM

Haha, this made me think of my paleo kitty and my very-allergic dad. He said his hives breakout was "more robust than ever" after an afternoon with her. Just mentioned it on the phone.

0df0b1c6ae16bbb75b4a5efa3d876765

(2240)

on February 07, 2012
at 02:20 AM

LOL no thanks! I haven't built up the courage to rub my face on any of them yet just to test if Paleo is beefing up my allergy resistance, since just petting them and forgetting to wash my hands before touching my face (or worse, rubbing my EYES!) has often caused sneezing fits and sometimes difficulty breathing.

0
518bce04b12cd77741237e1f61075194

(11577)

on February 07, 2012
at 01:58 AM

I don't think it would be a factor in most pet allergies, as the real problem is in the fur/hair/dander of animals. There is also the concept of "hypoallergenic" dogs, which is really just a fancy way of labeling dogs/cats that are non-shedding and don't have the same hair. My "paleo kitty" hurts my dad just as much as my neighbors cat does- it doesn't really matter.

I currently subscribe to the hygiene hypothesis of allergies associated with IgE and the lack of exposure to parasitic worms allowing an inappropriate immune response to be developed. Improved hygiene and lower levels of parasites goes pretty hand-in-hand with the development of allergies, and preliminary studies have shown potential.

So, while your pet may be healthier as a result of an improved diet (freeze that meat first!), I'm not sure what effect it would have on your allergies if they are of a dander/hair variety. Probably none? But here's to trying!

Ce41c230e8c2a4295db31aec3ef4b2ab

(32556)

on February 07, 2012
at 05:43 PM

Actually, Jenny, the allergen is in the saliva of the animals, it's not the fur itself that is a problem.

0df0b1c6ae16bbb75b4a5efa3d876765

(2240)

on February 07, 2012
at 02:28 AM

Good info, I'll have to look into the hygiene hypothesis a bit. Maybe I need to revise or clarify part of my original question, but I wonder what you and others think about Celiacs specifically, or anyone with a noticeably higher intolerance to wheat or gluten. Is it possible to still react to it through a pet's dander if the pet is consuming gluten? I've noticed the level of sensitivity to gluten varies widely amongst PH'ers, according to many of the posts I've read about it so far. Some people not being able to even walk into a Subway without feeling "glutened".

518bce04b12cd77741237e1f61075194

(11577)

on February 07, 2012
at 06:56 PM

Also, for the celiacs, if you were a super-sensitive celiac then grooming post-meal cats could potentially transfer gluten-containing particulates onto their fir, which could then be shed. This would be very miniscule- the trace amounts of food left after swallowing/chewing/drinking. You would have to have serious gluten spidey sense to react to it, but anythings possible! If you think of it in terms of "replace wheat flour with peanut flour in pet food" would someone w/a peanut allergy react? Usually only if they were anaphylactic. So, I would think it to behave similarly.

518bce04b12cd77741237e1f61075194

(11577)

on February 07, 2012
at 06:52 PM

Sorry, I guess I meant to say by "dander" I mean skin/saliva particulates (why cats cause a stronger allergic reaction than dogs, they are just so into cleaning!). The hair does cause irritation through texture and is usually the transport-object for dander. That is why hairless dogs/cats cause less allergic reaction (no hair, less cleaning, less dander) and why "hypoallergenic" pets work (less shedding of dander, as well as less cleaning required for the coat). I should have clarified that, I was being very general, sorry.

0
Medium avatar

(4878)

on February 07, 2012
at 01:33 AM

I would not be surprised if this is a serious factor in the allergy increase since our grandparents' generation. Seriously, does anyone on PH have a Grandparent over 70 who has allergies?

Anyway, as a raw feeder for 8 years, I can tell you that the process to convert your GF's cats to raw is much easier than dogs as they are true carnivores. You can check out RawPaws for info specific to cats if you are interested.

One of the things that is really interesting in the Raw Feeder community is the prevalence of dogs with "secondary" contamination issues. These dogs have allergies to meats raised on grains or soy. Obviously this can be difficult to diagnose as most people aren't feeding their dogs pastured meats, but once diagnosed many of the issues (vomiting, skin problems, etc.) disappear...overnight.

Just something to think about...and I wonder how many of us are dealing with similar issues.

0df0b1c6ae16bbb75b4a5efa3d876765

(2240)

on February 07, 2012
at 01:55 AM

Hi Marie, I agree about the grandparents thing. Strange, isn't it?

5e36f73c3f95eb4ea13a009f4936449f

(8280)

on February 07, 2012
at 01:59 AM

My grandmother used to get hives from eating raw tomatoes. She ate them anyways. She made it to her 80's.

518bce04b12cd77741237e1f61075194

(11577)

on February 07, 2012
at 02:03 AM

Not too strange, even in Europe and NA our grandparents were exposed to much higher levels of parasites than we are today, which primed their IgE to respond appropriately to external stimuli. We are babies of filtered water and sanitary conditions, so while many lives have been saved we have the side effect of an inappropriately responding immune system that doesn't know what is and is not a parasitic worm.

0
5e36f73c3f95eb4ea13a009f4936449f

(8280)

on February 06, 2012
at 11:13 PM

Interesting theory. However, there are hypoallergenic breeds that don't cause problems in people with allergies. Presumably they're not eating raw/regular stuff. So while the theory is plausible, it would need to be tested. I assume the companies that breed the hypoallergenic ones wouldn't pay for that. :) You might get support from dog food companies, but I think they'd have a lot to lose if they make the dry corn/grain petfoods.

518bce04b12cd77741237e1f61075194

(11577)

on February 07, 2012
at 01:53 AM

Hm, but my dad has severe allergies to all "hairy" pets, and has been fine with our doodle for the last few years? It has more to do with the hair and dander.

0df0b1c6ae16bbb75b4a5efa3d876765

(2240)

on February 07, 2012
at 02:14 AM

Thanks for chiming in everyone! I was typing to share the wiki link before the other comments came in. I've noticed before that I don't have as much issue with certain individual pets versus others, but it's never with any rhyme or reason. I had a friend once with a hairless cat and that cute lil' Rat Cat (my nickname for him) aggravated my allergies way more than some of the hairier ones, so I've always just been cautious about getting to close to any of them.

Medium avatar

(4878)

on February 07, 2012
at 01:20 AM

BTW, there is no such thing as a hypoallergenic pet. It is a big marketing scam. The "doodle" thing, just like the Puggles, was a way for breeders (BYBs) to make money off mutts. http://healthland.time.com/2011/07/08/the-myth-of-the-hypoallergenic-dog/

0df0b1c6ae16bbb75b4a5efa3d876765

(2240)

on February 07, 2012
at 02:09 AM

Marie, that is the general consensus I actually noticed in a few sources. Here's ol' Wikipedia: "Though some studies suggest the possible existence of hypoallergenic dog breeds, there is too much variability to conclude that such a breed exists" https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Hypoallergenic_dog_breed

Medium avatar

(4878)

on February 07, 2012
at 04:03 AM

I wasn't commenting on the lowered allergenic response to some breeds, just the nomenclature of hypoallergenic. One of the issues with any hybrid is the inconsistency of the F2 breedings and the lack of understanding most BYBs have regarding WHY their two F1 dogs produced an F2 litter with extreme variations. It is one of the reasons you'll find few +F4 doodles. (Oh, and there is nothing wrong with doodles, puggles, maltipoos, bullboxers, etc. All dogs are great, but the people who breed them without knowledge of conformation, temperament, and basic genetics are not...)

518bce04b12cd77741237e1f61075194

(11577)

on February 07, 2012
at 02:02 AM

I think it is just a dander/hair issue, my dad is totally fine with any poodle-type breed, but he dies when a short-haired lab is in the area. My totally paleo cat also makes him break out in hives within moments. I don't think it's too promising a theory based on just that personal experience, but there's also anecdotes=/=epidemiology.

5e36f73c3f95eb4ea13a009f4936449f

(8280)

on February 07, 2012
at 01:58 AM

Hrm, I don't know. A coworker's husband is fairly allergic to dogs and they have a couple dogs they say are "hypoallergenic" and he has no problems with them. I've been in their house, and he's not the hypochondriac type. Could be it's all in his mind, but I don't know that I'd want to bring it up and cause problems, lol. For their purposes it's working fine.

5e36f73c3f95eb4ea13a009f4936449f

(8280)

on February 07, 2012
at 02:01 AM

On the other hand, they feed their dogs a vegetarian diet because it's "better" for them. Not the best idea IMHO, but again, pick your battles. They're not my dogs.

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