How to Reduce Pet Allergens at Home
Allergies to pets are one of the most common reasons for giving up a beloved companion animal. The US Humane Society has estimated that as many as 1 in 7 people are allergic to either cats or dogs. In fact, as many as 1 in 3 pet owners is actually allergic!
How can you have an allergy and live with a pet?
Some simple strategies can help you to reduce pet dander in your home, allowing you to manage your pet allergy without getting rid of your companion animal.
To manage your pet allergy effectively, you have to understand what you are really allergic to. You aren’t allergic to your pet’s hair; you are really allergic to your pet’s skin and saliva. Your pet’s hair may bother you but that is because saliva gets deposited on the hair when your pet grooms. Skin cells may also be present in your pet’s hair as a result of your pet’s grooming and scratching.
Skin cells and saliva can both be deposited on any area that the pet lies on or frequents. This is the reason that people think they are allergic to the hair of an animal – the hair normally contains both of these common allergens, and it’s the visible reminder that your pet has been around.
Hoping to buy a hypoallergenic breed of cat or dog? While there are some breeds of animals that are known as less allergenic, most veterinarians say there really is no such thing as a completely non-allergenic animal. However, that hasn’t stopped entrepreneurial companies from attempting to breed one!
Most of us can’t afford a specially bred animal that is genetically programmed to produce less allergen. In that case, we need to take other steps to reduce our exposure to pet dander and saliva, especially if we want to keep a pet. We also need to consider the ways in which we bring pet allergens into our home, even without owning a companion animal! Pet dander and dried saliva are very small particles that can become airborne. Our regular coffee with a good friend with a pet can actually mean that we take pet dander home on our clothes! So, some of these techniques will apply to every sufferer of pet allergies.
If you are a pet owner, you can keep a pet and still keep your allergies in check. Here are the top 10 tips to keep your nose from running whenever you enter your front door.
- Your bedroom should be an allergy-free zone in your home. This ensures that your sleep will be free of the stress of pet allergens, and it also allows your body a recovery period from any exposure.
- Pets should also be encouraged to stay off soft furniture like couches and upholstered chairs. Animal dander will collect in any soft, cloth surface.
- Wash your pet at least once a week! This technique may allow even the most allergic to own a pet. This technique will be most pleasant and easy if you start with a young animal and establish this as a routine early. Using a special pet shampoo is important, as the skin pH of animals is different than human beings. Also, some pet shampoos will have ingredients that help to reduce the amount of allergen that remains on the pet. Interestingly enough, it also helps to use a conditioning rinse on your pet. It can also help to reduce dander.
- Brush your pet weekly, and do it outdoors! You could also consider using a protective mask to keep from breathing in any dander. Brushing, like washing, removes allergens, so doing it outdoors helps to keep those allergens out of the house.
- Vacuum and dust at least weekly. Avoid cleaning techniques which can put allergens into the air, such as sweeping. Your best bet is to use a damp cloth or cleaning spray for dusting, while vacuuming all floors.
- Your vacuum cleaner should be a central vacuum with the system vented to the outside of your home (such as your garage), or a portable vacuum with a certified HEPA filtration system.
- An air purifier can help anyone with allergies. Using one in the bedroom can really improve the air for those 8 hours when you are sleeping. An air purifier can also improve the quality of sleep, as you reduce your body’s allergic load, which can help to reduce symptoms.
- Get healthy oils into your pet’s diet! These kinds of oils improve dry skin conditions, which keeps dander down.
- Shower and wash your own hair before going to bed. This means that you don’t take dander and allergens into your bedroom. In fact, if you can take off the clothes you’ve worn for the day and deposit them in a hamper outside your room, you can almost eliminate pet allergens in your “allergy free” zone.
- Wash your clothing in the hottest water that each item can tolerate, and consider using a detergent that is specially formulated to remove allergens.