by Emma Hughes
Animal allergies are quite common, but so are pets. Often, the new furry friend has just settled in, when suddenly a family member starts experiencing symptoms like sneezing or shortness of breath.
Or, maybe you’re not allergic to your furball, but friends and relatives are, and you can’t invite them over without giving them itchy eyes and a stuffy nose.
Luckily, if the symptoms are mild, cleaning your home regularly and talking to your doctor about medication may help. Vacuum routinely, use air purifiers to clean the air, and keep your bedroom clean with pet hair-resistant bedding are some of the most common tips pet owners hear for reducing animal allergens in their home.
But what else can pet parents do if Bella or Charlie is causing their allergies to act up? Let’s dig a little deeper.
In the U.S., three in ten people get allergy symptoms from dogs and cats, with cat allergies being twice as common as dog allergies. Although some breeds are considered hypoallergenic, there are no cats or dogs that are entirely non-allergenic.
Pet allergies are caused by an oversensitive immune system that reacts to proteins found in pet dander, saliva, or urine. Pet hair, on the other hand, is actually not an allergen. Still, it can carry those proteins that cause allergies and can therefore be a cause of symptoms.
Some of the most common symptoms related to animal allergies are:
- Runny or stuffy nose
- Shortness of breath
- Read, itchy or watery eyes
- Skin rash or hives
If you have a pet and your experiencing allergy symptoms, reducing animal allergens in your home may help. With severe allergies, the only solution is to find the pet a new home, but milder symptoms can often be relieved by making sure the home is kept clean.
Here are a few ways to reduce animal allergens in your home:
- Remove carpeting, avoid plush carpets, and declutter your home. Allergens are sticky, and they quickly attach to anything in your house. Minimizing surfaces they can cling onto will help you reduce those allergens altogether and make it easier for you to clean your home.
- Instead of wall-to-wall carpets, use washable throw rugs when possible and wash them at least twice a year. Low-pile carpets are the best choice for homes with allergies.
- Buy a powerful but lightweight vacuum cleaner with a HEPA-filter to easily vacuum high-traffic areas and furniture every day. This will remove a lot of the pet hair, dander, and allergens that your pet spreads around during the day.
- Wash your clothes frequently and fold away the laundry as soon as it’s dry to prevent allergens in the air from sticking onto the fabric.
- Brush your pet thoroughly at least a couple of times a week (or preferable every day) to remove dander and pet hair before it gets wafted into the air. Doing it outside is ideal because it ensures the allergens that are lifted into the air when brushing will stay outside.
- Use an air purifier with a HEPA filter to remove allergens from the indoor air.
- Don’t let your pet in the bedroom. Since you spend one third of your life in your bed, keeping your cat or dog away from the bedroom and cleaning it thoroughly once a week will help reduce those symptoms.
Having a pet that you’re allergic to often means you have to find ways that enable sharing a home. Cleaning is the best way to reduce allergens, but in the end, having a routine for it is our number one tip.
Since pets produce more dander every minute, cleaning your home or bushing your pet once a month is not enough. Allergens have a way of spreading everywhere, and they can even be found in homes that have not housed pets in years. Therefore, to reduce animal allergens in your home, you need to clean regularly. Depending on how allergic you are, you may need to vacuum every day and keep your home spotless all the time.
Set up a routine and get out that vacuum cleaner. Vacuum your furniture and rugs and wash your clothes and bedding. Add an air purifier and allergy-friendly floor materials, and you may find a way for you and your pet to share a home without sneezing and wheezing.