Maura Davies, VP of Communications at the North Texas SPCA talks about reducing pet allergens in the home.
As much as we all adore our furry best friends, we could certainly live without all that dander! When your other allergies hit, the last thing you need is another irritant floating around in the air. There are a few tips you can follow to help you (and your four-legged friends) keep your home’s air clean all year round!
Here are a few questions Maura Davies answers:
- Why are people allergic to pets?
Almost 62% of U.S. households have pets, and more than 161 million of these pets are cats and dogs. Unfortunately, millions of pet owners have an allergy to their animals.
The proteins found in a pet’s dander, skin flakes, saliva and urine can cause an allergic reaction or aggravate asthma symptoms in some people. Also, pet hair or fur can collect pollen, mold spores and other outdoor allergens.
An allergen is a normally harmless substance that triggers the immune system to overreact in people with allergies. This response can cause allergy symptoms such as sniffling, sneezing and itchiness and watery eyes.
- What can people do if they’re allergic to their pets?
First, contrary to popular opinion, there are no truly “hypoallergenic breeds” of dogs or cats. Allergic dander in cats and dogs is not affected by length of hair or fur, nor by the amount of shedding.
Giving up a pet in order to prevent allergy symptoms isn’t always necessary, though. An allergist / immunologist has specialized training and experience to accurately diagnose your symptoms and develop a treatment plan to help you or your child manage allergy symptoms and potentially keep your furry friends.
- What about in the coziest place…your bed (that you may share with your pets!)? Any tips on decreasing allergens there?
One easy solution to ease nighttime allergies is to purchase quality hypoallergenic sheets. These sheets are designed to repel allergens. While down comforters are incredibly cozy, dander and dust mites can get trapped inside. Switching to a cotton comforter or quilt can make a difference in how you breathe at night.
- What’s an alternative to that of you have pets and you’re allergic to their dander?
Unless you can’t bear to sleep without your cuddle buddy, it’s a good idea to keep your fur baby off the bed and possibly even out of your bedroom. Having a clean, pet-free zone in your house can provide you and your guests with a comfortable area to breathe in. It’s also a good idea to clean your pet’s favorite spot more frequently and more thoroughly than other areas of your home.
- How can folks keep the rest of their home as dander free as possible?
Diligent cleaning is obviously the number one way to keep pet allergies at bay. Wood, tile, and laminate are optimal flooring choices for pet owners as these materials are much easier to clean than carpet. Frequent dry mopping, dusting, and, if you have carpet in your home, vacuuming, will help keep dander from building up. When looking for a vacuum, you may come across many models that are specifically designed to pick up pet hair and dander. Some even have special attachments that are excellent at picking up pet hair from furniture and tight corners. Of course, dust around your home often – especially around vents and ceiling fans.
Take a bath! Make sure to buy shampoo specific to your animal. Dog owners with sensitive allergies may want to bathe their animals around twice a week to reduce the amount of dander they produce. If you have doubts about what type of pet shampoo will be best for your animal, ask your veterinarian. In the event that your pet hates getting wet, here is a great recipe for a dry shampoo that will keep your aquaphobic animal both clean and happy!
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