The purpose of conducting this study was to evaluate/quantify different modalities of exposure to cat/dog in inducing allergic sensitization.

30 Italian Allergy units participated in this study. Each center was required to collect the data of at least 20 consecutive outpatients who were sensitized to cat/dog allergens. A standardized form was given to the patients to get their response. They reported all demographic data and particular attention was paid to relieving possible modalities of exposure to cat/dog.

A total of 723 patients sensitized to cat/dog were recorded. Out of the total sample size 359  reported direct pet contact, 213 patients were pet owners, and 146 subjects were exposed to pets in other settings. Other patients were sensitized by previous pet ownership or indirect contact, in 111 subjects any contact was reported.

nly 213 patients would be classified as “exposed to animals” and 510 as “not exposed” according to the usual query. Our classification has shown that many “not-exposed” subjects were “really exposed”. The study, therefore, concluded that the magnitude of exposure to pet allergens at home is not related exclusively to pet ownership.