Pets and Allergies: How to Reduce the Dander in Your Home
Families come in all shapes and sizes, and many include furry friends. In fact, about 27 percent of homes in the United States have cats as pets, while 32 percent have dogs.
Just because they are a part of the family, doesn’t mean your pets won’t bring you the misery of allergies. In fact, around three in 10 people with allergies have allergic reactions to cats and dogs. What causes these allergies? It’s often not actually their hair or fur, but rather their dander.
What is pet dander?
Pet dander is made up of tiny, microscopic pieces of skin that are shed by animals with fur or feathers, including dogs, cats, and birds. Dander may be the main cause of pet allergies, but additional allergens are found in the proteins found in saliva that may flake off from an animal’s fur into the air. While pet fur is not actually an allergen itself, it can collect dander, urine, and saliva, as well as other allergens, including dust and pollen.
How does pet dander affect the air in my home and my health?
It is estimated that six out of 10 people are exposed to dog or cat dander. These allergens can collect on furniture, walls, and other surfaces and may remain at high levels for several months. Many of these particles can become airborne and are small enough to be inhaled into your lungs.
If someone is allergic to pets or suffers from asthma triggers, dander can make respiratory symptoms worse and affect the lung’s ability to function. Allergy symptoms vary for everyone and some may experience symptoms such as congestion, sneezing, runny nose, chest tightness, and itching, watery eyes.
How can I reduce the amount of pet dander in my house?
If you or someone you love suffers from allergies due to pet dander, below are a few ways you can try to reduce the impact these allergens have on your health.
- Wipe Down Surfaces: Wiping down walls, counters, ceilings, and solid furniture is the easiest way to reduce or eliminate pet dander. This can be done using an all-purpose cleaner and hot water combination. Avoid simply dry dusting, which may cause the dander to recirculate back into the air and settle elsewhere.
- Bathe Pets Regularly: Giving your pets a bath every one to two weeks, or least once a month, is a way to control pet dander and odor. The Human Society states that bathing your pets weekly can reduce the level of dander on fur by up to 84%. There are even specialty anti-dander shampoos you can use on your cats and dogs. Be sure to talk to your veterinarian about the best bathing frequency and which products to use.
- Clean Upholstery: While many people opt to keep pets off furniture completely to reduce dander, some of our furry friends won’t take no for an answer! Pet dander can be removed from couches, chairs, fabrics, curtains, and carpets by simply using a lint roller or sticky tape. You can also wash and shampoo your upholstery and many slipcovers, rugs, and drapes. Investing in a vacuum with a High Efficiency Particulate Arresting (HEPA) filter will also allow you to clean carpets and other textiles without recirculating the dander into the air.
- Create a Pet-Free Zone: If your allergies prevent you from sleeping, designate a pet-free area, such as a bedroom or the upstairs of your home, and restrict your pet’s access.
How an Air Purifier Can Help Remove Pet Dander from Your Home
Beyond removing dander from surfaces in your home, consider purchasing an air purifier, which can capture pet dander from the air and trap it inside their filter. Depending on the severity of your allergies, you may need air purifiers in various rooms inside your home. Air purifiers with a carbon filter element can also help reduce any odors trapped in your home from pets.
While pet dander is a larger particle, other chemical cleaners associated with pets – such as spot treatments you may use on rugs or couches – can release small nanoparticles into the air.
Not every air purifier is the same, and some cannot effectively capture the smallest, most dangerous particles (10 – 300 nanometers). For example, HEPA standards only call for the elimination of 99.97% of particles down to 300 nanometers. This is something to consider when looking for the right device for your home.
Using a combination of three filters, the Celios G200 produces cleanroom-quality air. It eliminates up to 99.99999% of ultrafine air particles and can capture particulates down to 10 nanometers in size. Fully portable, with up to 24 hours of battery life, you can move the device from room to room with you throughout the day, cleaning the air as you go.
Having better air quality in your home can often help reduce allergy and asthma triggers, whether the allergens are coming from outside or from your favorite pets indoors. Making small changes to clean the surfaces and air in your home can greatly reduce the severity of your symptoms and help keep you and your loved ones as healthy as possible.