A pet allergy can cause a runny nose, wheezing, difficulty breathing, swollen skin, and many other symptoms. Pets may be the joy of your life, but life with allergy symptoms is far from joyous.
So, what can you do to reduce these pet allergens while keeping the pets you love?
With the right approach, you can maintain a happy home full of wonderful pets. And it all comes down to reducing indoor pet dander.
What is Pet Dander?Because there is a little confusion, it’s worth clarifying what pet dander is. Pet dander is not pet hair or pet fur, it’s skin cells. Just like humans, animals shed skin cells, which are so small and light that they can float in the air. It’s these skin cells that cause allergic reactions.
Pet hair, however, can play a role. It essentially acts as a vehicle for animal dander, carrying it around and helping it spread. So, while extra-furry breeds may not have more dog dander, they can spread the pet allergen throughout the home.
Controlling and Reducing Pet Dander in the HomeIf you suffer from pet allergies, the most important steps you can take to improve your symptoms is to control the pet’s dander. To be brutally honest, the best way to eliminate pet dander would be to get rid of the pet, but we’re certainly not going to make that outrageous suggestion to pet parents!
Fortunately, you can take some simple measure to keep the pet’s dander and your allergy symptoms in control.
One of the first steps you can take is to keep the pets off the furniture. If you have a pet that likes to lay on couches, chairs, or the bed, do your best to keep them off. When pets lay on furniture, they deposit their dander in the exact place where you spend a lot of your time. Keeping dogs (and dog allergies) and cats off the furniture also ensures more dander stays on the floor where it can be easily cleaned and vacuumed.
Dusting and general cleaning should also be a priority. Constantly cleaning dust from surfaces will minimize the amount of dander in the air, and will also help remove other dust particles that can contaminate your interior. Be sure to vacuum any fabrics that the pet sleeps on, such as rugs or carpets, and wash any pet beds. If you have indoor cages for pets like hamsters, rabbits, or guinea pigs, clean them regularly.
Bathing the pet can also help reduce dander in the home. By bathing the pet, you wash away excess skin cells that would otherwise be released in the home. A study from the United Kingdom that was published in the Journal of Allergy and Clinical Immunology, found that washing a pet twice a week achieved a “modest reduction” in airborne pollutants.
If your allergies are severe or if you have an aggravating chronic condition like asthma, you may need to create a pet-free area. Choose a single room (the bedroom is a great option) and never allow pets to enter this area. Use a HEPA air cleaner, keep the room clean, and strictly remove all pets. This can serve and your sanctuary from allergy-inducing pet dander.
Pet Shampoos: The Real Deal or Snake Oil?There are also pet shampoos that claim to reduce pet dander. While these products may be effective, it appears that most reputable sources are skeptical. Animal Planet, for example, says there is little evidence that pet shampoos are effective for reducing dander. A veterinarian quoted in their article essentially says that studies show little difference between normal pet shampoo and special anti-dander shampoos.
Choosing the Right Pet Can Reduce DanderMany allergy sufferers want to bring home “hypoallergenic” animals, which are pets that don’t cause allergic reactions. While some pets are less likely to cause an allergic reaction, there is actually no such thing as a 100% allergy-free pet. All mammals give off some amount of skin, so no matter which cat or dog breed you choose, you will have dander in the home.
While completely hypoallergenic dogs and cats don’t actually exist, there are a few options for avoiding excess pet dander. If you’re a dog person, the American Kennel Club offers a few suggestions for reducing allergies with breeds such as the miniature schnauzer, poodle, and the Irish water spaniel. PetMD has suggestions for cats that include the hairless sphynx and the Siberian and Bengal breeds.
If you are really interested in a hypoallergenic pet, and you don’t mind having a unique animal in your home, you could look into owning a reptile or amphibians, such as iguanas, turtles, and geckos. These animals have a lack of dander, leading to far fewer complications with allergies. Best of all, you’ll have a pet that is unique and interesting!
Birds are also a good choice for people who have allergies to cat and dog dander. They still produce dander, but you may get by safely with a cockatoo or parrot. Fish are another choice if you want a pet, and pigs are good house pets that have far less dander.
Combatting Pet AllergiesIf making changes in the home and selecting different breeds does not help your allergies, you may need to consider medical treatments for the problem. Any medical treatments must be discussed with your doctor, but potential solutions include immunotherapy, antihistamine pills, nose sprays, allergy shots, or even a combination of treatments.
The Best Air Purifiers for Controlling Pet DanderHaving an air purifier in the home serves many important purposes, including the removal of pet dander. Air purifiers with HEPA filters pull in air and trap it in highly-sophisticated filters, catching even the smallest particles. This helps maintain low levels of pet dander. Air purifiers could help you control your allergic problem and will help with pet odors too!
The Oransi mod HEPA air purifier, for example, is a great option for improving indoor air quality and providing clean air to your home. This advanced machine can remove 99.4% of airborne allergens, including mold spores, pollen, dust mites, and (of course) pet dander. With a MERV17 rating and the ability to clean a room of roughly 1,250 feet, the mod is one of the most effective purifiers on the market for pet dander removal!