Pet Dander: How It Impacts The Air You Breathe
There are few things in life that are better than the unconditional love, affection, and over companionship of a family pet. Our pets can help with our overall health by lowering blood pressure, providing stress relief, and improving our moods. When dander, saliva, urine, or sweat from a pet is released into the air, negatively impacting your indoor air quality and your overall health.
Causes of Pet Allergies
The most common pet allergens are found in a pet’s dander. This is also the most problematic due to its small size and ability to linger in the air for a long time.
Pet dander is composed of tiny flecks of skin shed by cats, dogs, rodents, birds, and other animals with fur or feathers. Like us, dogs and cats must undergo a wardrobe change when the seasons change and the climate gets warmer. Many thick-coated pets shed heavily and release their protective under-layer of fur, which releases dander into the air. Furthermore, proteins found in saliva, urine, and feces from cats, dogs, and other pets can cause allergic reactions. Dried saliva may flake off from an animal's fur and become airborne, and dust from dried feces can be suspended in the same way.
Another common pet allergen is a protein found in cat saliva (Fel d 1). This protein enters the air on small particles, cat fur, and skin. Because the protein is so small, it can stay airborne for hours and can enter deep into your lungs, triggering asthma symptoms for those with sensitivities. Pet allergens may even be airborne in homes that used to have pets. These allergens can linger for up to 6 months. Two large studies in the United States highlighted that upwards of 99.7% of American homes detected the presence of the Fel d 1 protein in the dust of sofas, carpets, and beds, regardless of whether or not cats were present.
Pet Dander Allergy Symptoms
Allergy symptoms due to pet dander vary from person to person and depend on the level of exposure. Allergy symptoms experienced due to a pet dander allergy may include the following:
Shortness of breath
Watery, red or itchy eyes
Skin rash or hives
What are Hypoallergenic Pets?
The term ‘hypoallergenic’ has been commonly misconstrued as meaning that these pets are guaranteed to be ‘safe’ for those with pet allergies. Unfortunately, this is not the case. ‘Hypoallergenic pets’ is a term used to describe pets that either produce less allergens, or do not shed as frequently. These pets produce less allergens than other pets, making them better options for those with pet allergies. If you or anyone in your home is allergic to pets, it is important to consult with an allergist before taking any pet home.
Tips and Tricks for Managing Pet Dander Allergies
If you have a pet allergy, the best way to reduce or eliminate symptoms is to minimize
your exposure to the animal as much as possible. If your symptoms are not severe or life-threatening, there are ways to reduce pet allergens without getting rid of your pet:
Keep your bedroom a pet-free zone. Although you may always want your pet with you, keeping your pet out of the bedroom reduce allergens present as well. If you do choose to share your bedroom with your pets, wash your sheets often to minimize allergens.
Invest in an air purifier. Air purifiers not only reduce pet allergens such as dander or fur, but they reduce other allergens from the air that don’t come from your pet.
Bathe your pets. Bathe your pets to reduce the level of dander released into the air. Please check with your veterinarian or other animal care professional in order to receive proper information on how to bathe your pet and how often.
Wash your hands. Be sure to wash your hands after playing with or petting your pet, especially before touching your face.
Consult with a physician. Ask an allergist for information on how to prevent your symptoms.
Clean your home frequently. Cleaning can help remove pet allergens from surfaces.
Clean fabric surfaces such as upholstery and carpets. This helps to remove dander and the sticky proteins that cause allergic reactions. Use a HEPA vacuum and even a steam cleaner to loosen surface dirt. Always make sure to check the manufacturer’s directions on what surfaces can be safely cleaned in this manner.
Clean hard surfaces (floors, counters, walls) often, preferably with non-toxic cleaners as household cleaners can also add chemicals to the indoor air.
Combat Pet Dander With Fresh Air Matters
Fresh Air Matters offers an extensive selection of air purufiriers from multiple top brand manufacturers that combat health issues associated with pert dander. One such manufacturer is Trusens. TruSens™ Air Purifiers incorporate multiple levels of filtration that specifically target pet dander, hair, and odors. The washable prefilter* and activated carbon filter trap large particles, and the HEPA filter captures particulate matter as small as 0.3 microns.