Pets are a pleasure that many adults and children are denied because they are allergic to animals.
Now a firm that manufactures and distributes pet grooming products is introducing a lotion that, it says, will control the main causes of animal allergy: dried saliva on cats' coats and animal dander, which resembles human dandruff."It will produce a significant effect on allergic reactions in most children and adults," says the promotional material for the product, called Allerpet.
Doctors who treat allergic people prescribe caution. While the product itself might be harmless, pet allergies can be dangerous for very sensitive people. So far, Allerpet's long-range effects on animals are unknown. The lotion also is unlikely to be the total answer to animal allergy.
Careful grooming of the animal is still necessary, and so is vigilant housekeeping to control dander accumulated in carpets and other places where the pet roams or settles.
Besides dander, pet-generated allergens include dried saliva, left on the animal's coat after it grooms itself, and dried urine.
The new lotion, which is swabbed on with a water-moistened sponge, counteracts the buildup of these troublesome deposits, which can flake into tiny particles that fly around in the air.
"The product seals the hair shaft and prevents the dander from clinging to it," said Shirlee Kalstone, co-owner of Allerpet, during a recent promotional tour. "The coat will shine, and the skin won't be so dry. There won't be so much dander flying about."
Wouldn't the same thing be accomplished by using an ordinary post-shampoo hair conditioner? No, said Kalstone.
Allerpet, which costs $7.95 for an estimated 30-day supply, has been formulated to neutralize the allergens in dried cat saliva and dried urine.
"Neither my husband nor I are chemists," she said. "We have a research and development team in New York that works for us."
For 20 years, the Kalstones have manufactured and distributed Ring 5, a line of pet grooming aids sold in 67 countries.
Although Allerpet has a direct impact on public health, it isn't used on humans, so it doesn't need to be tested by the U.S. Food and Drug Administration.
Kalstone said an independent laboratory performed safety tests.
"This is a very mild product," she said. "There is nothing in it that would cause any problems."
Allergy treatment specialists may take some convincing that it will work. Several, asked for their opinions, said they had not heard of it, so had no comment.
One doctor expressed concern that parents or relatives of an allergic person might be persuaded to keep an animal that had not been treated sufficiently to reduce the danger.
"This is a nonregulated thing," said Dr. Donald Aaronson, president of the American College of Allergy and Immunology, in Chicago. "I have a hunch it is not harmful, but I also have a very strong hunch it will not do the job that they are professing it will do. If it gets someone to bring a pet into a house on a false assumption, we may get some very sick people."
The Kalstones plan to extend the Allerpet line from the current lotion for dogs, cats and small furred animals, to a spray-mist version for caged birds.
As with the household pets, controlling dander and other allergens scattered by birds and caged animals requires some housekeeping chores inside the cages as well as outside.
*A brochure about Allerpet may be obtained by sinding a stamped, addressed envelope to: Allerpet Inc., P.O. Box 1076, Lenox Hill Station, New York, N.Y. 10021.