Living with Pet Allergies

Living with pet allergies can be a pain. So why are people allergic to cats and dogs?  People often think that it is the pet hair that they are allergic to, but it is actually dander and saliva that is causing an allergic reaction. Dander is composed of ultra small flecks of skin which contain oils and proteins that cause the allergic reactions.  To be sure that you are reacting to the pet dander and not other sources of allergens like mold, dust mites and pollen, have your doctor give you and allergy test to pinpoint the allergen source. So how is it to live with pet allergies

Pet Allergy Symptoms

  • Wheezing
  • Itchy Rash
  • Watery Eyes
  • Nasal congestion

Minimize Pet Allergies

  1. Restrict Pets from the Bedroom- While you might love snuggling up with your pet, keeping cats and dogs out of the bedroom is one of the best ways to minimize pet allergies.  You spend a huge chunk of your day sleeping.  Preventing exposure to allergens in the bedroom will help.  If you pet is currently sleeping in the bedroom (or bed), wash all bedding and deep clean the bedroom paying special attention to soft surfaces and drapes. 
  2. Brush Pets Weekly and Outside- brushing your pets weekly is one of the best ways to minimize allergens from dander.  Make sure to brush outside so you are not spreading more dander and hair around the house.  If possible, have someone who is not allergic do the grooming.
  3. Bathing- Bathe pets weekly.  You can bathe cats; it does take some getting used to.  Even wiping cats or dogs down with a damp cloth can help remove allergens.  If your dog or cat’s coat or skin seems flakey, take them to the veterinarian.  An unhealthy coat or skin can be an indication of a larger problem or the veterinarian might be able to recommend a diet to help the skin condition.
  4. Do Not Allow Pets on Furniture- As much as you might enjoy snuggling up for a movie with your four legged friend, upholstered surfaces are the worst for holding pet dander.  Make sure your pets have their own comfortable beds to rest in.
  5. Ventilation- Modern homes are efficiently airtight. Unfortunately, this means that buildup allergens like pet dander stay inside the home.  Be sure to open windows and door regularly to air out the home.  Consider inventing in a HEPA filter to further clean your home’s air.
  6. Cleaning- Vacuum floors and upholstered furniture several times a week.  Get professional carpet, upholstery, and area rug cleaning every six months to prevent dander and allergen buildup. 
  7. HVAC- Don’t forget about your HVAC system!  All of the air in your home passes through the HVAC system when you have the heater or air conditioner on.  Change out air filters regularly and get your air duct system cleaned once a year.
  8. Wash Hands- Washing your hands after touching your pet will help you keep their dander out or your eyes, and off of your skin.

Pets bring so much love and joy to our lives. Pets also bring hair, fur, and dander.  Minimize allergens and maximize joy by following an pet allergy plan.  Need more pet and cleaning tips? See the COIT blog.  We have tips on everything from DIY pet toys to organizing a linen closet.