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Photographic gallery.  Thousands of particles under the microscope.
Pet Dander Through the Microscope

Pet Dander

This is an environmental tapelift collected from a home with two dogs, four birds, and a cat. The long straght particles belong to dogs. There are many, some in clumps, in the field of view. The hook shaped particles are bird dander. There are four in the field of view. There are a couple cat dander particles. There are also some human skin flakes here. The fiber coming in from the lower right is a bird feather barbule. The agglomerated particle right of center is a fecal fragment from one of the dogs. Cat fecal material tends to have less mineral content and bird fecal material contains large amounts of gaunamine crystals.

Transmitted Off Crossed Polarized Light Illumination


Pet dander is more optically active than most human dander.

Significance in the Environment:

Dog dander is common in homes with a pet dog but is also common in office and school environments from the clothing of dog owners. It is more common than cat dander in office and school environments because dogs tend to generate more dander than cats. Fewer people are sensitive to dogs than to cats so the presence of dog dander is generally not a source of health complaints in these environments.

Characteristic Features:

Dog skin flakes tend to be about three times or more as long as they are wide. In indoor tapelift samples they can be confussed with very fine wood sawdust particles but the wood sawdust particles almost always contain cell structure or distictive fibril structure at the edges that distinguish the sawdust from the dog dander. Sawdust has a much higher birefringence than dog dander and so can easily be distinguished when viewed with crossed polarized light. The stress birefringence evident in the dog dander is typically irregular
in terms of its expression within the particle and from particle to particle.

Associated Particles:

Dog hair may be found with the sample.