The United States has a lot of pet owners. There are over 100 million pets in US households and of those households, roughly 10 million of the pet owners are allergic to their pets.
Contrary to what people typically think, allergies are not caused by the fur but by the proteins that are present in the animals’ saliva, secretions from glands in the skin etc. The pet’s dander causes some of the worst allergic reactions. Length of fur does not make any difference although the fur does carry the dander and saliva as well as dust, mold spores and other allergens.
Obviously the best way to treat pet allergies, as it is with any allergy, is avoidance. For those of us that love our furry kids and can’t imagine not having them around, avoidance does not mean not having any animals. Rather, it means things such as keeping the animal outside as much as possible. Don’t let them sleep on your bed. Keep the pets off carpeted areas and upholstered furniture and so on. Allergens get into carpeting and upholstery and can stay there for as long as six months.
For those of us with cats, we know all the above is virtually impossible. So, an option for us as well as any allergy sufferer, is removing allergens from the air. This requires good ventilation and good air filtration. As was discussed in prior indoor air quality articles, homes today are being built very tightly but are not being provided with adequate ventilation making indoor air often more polluted than outdoor air. Add pet dander to this and those of us with allergies end up suffering with chronic congestion, headaches and fatigue. A high-efficiency media air cleaner can remove up to 95% of airborne particles as small as 1/25,000th of an inch. In addition to helping you with your allergies and cleaning the air, a good air filter also helps to protect your HVAC equipment, extending its life span and helping it to run more efficiently thus decreasing your utility bill. A good air filter more than pays for itself!
Grooming your pets and keeping them clean is another strategy to helping decrease pet allergies. Regular combing and bathing will keep the dander to a minimum although you may want to check with your veterinarian to make sure just how often it is okay to bathe your pet. Bathe them with a shampoo that neutralizes or makes allergens inactive.
-Wash hands after handling your pet.
-Remove litter boxes from areas that are frequented by allergy sufferers and make sure the litter pan is away from HVAC venting.
-Wear a dust mask when vacuuming and use a vacuum with a HEPA filter.
-And check out these resources online: American Academy of Allergy, Asthma and Immunology www.aaaai.org
Aprilaire Indoor Air Quality Products www.aprilaire.com , The Humane Society of the United States www.hsus.org
American College of Allergy, Asthma and Immunology www.acaai.org , Asthma and Allergy Foundation of America www.aafa.org .
If you would like to learn more about ventilation and air filtration for your home, please contact us at one of our three offices.