If you are someone that has a pet allergy, you know terrible and debilitating it can feel when it strikes.
Your nose feels like a leaky faucet, your eyes are puffy and watering, your chest feels tight and it makes you feel like crap.
Maybe you just moved in with a partner that has a pet and you are trying to see how to manage your pet allergies.
Or it is even possible to develop an allergy to your pet after years of exposure to the allergens.
Whatever the case, our job is to show you how you can manage your pet allergies and live in harmony with your pet.
The most important thing is getting rid of the allergen – dander.
What Is Pet Dander Allergy?
Pet dander allergy happens when an individual’s pet allergy is being triggered by the allergen, dander.
Dander is basically dead loose skin that gets shed into the air. This happens when the pet grooms itself or start shedding their fur or feathers.
Pet dander is very small or even microscopic in size and can be hard to spot by the naked eye.
The dead skin by itself isn’t the issue but more the protein that is secreted by the animal that sticks on the dander.
There’s a risk of pet dander allergy if your pet has fur.
How Pet Dander Is Spread?
Dander is very light and small and has the tendency to stick and latch onto objects. Being so light and floaty, it is very transmissible as it becomes airborne once the air around it is agitated.
Hence there is a risk that dander can travel all over the house even if your pet is confined to certain areas.
Cat dander consists of the protein Fel d1. This protein is present in the cat’s saliva, oil glands and urine. One common way of spreading this allergen is when the cat sheds its fur and there are some cats that can shed a lot of fur.
The good thing is there are some cats that are hypoallergenic like the Bengal which means that they produce less of this protein which can help reduce your sensitivity to the allergen.
Dog dander has its own protein called Can f1 and Can f2. This protein is found in the dog’s saliva and passed on to their fur coat when licking themselves.
For dogs, the possibility of direct transmission to your skin is more common as they tend to lick their owners more.
Cat allergies are also more common as compared to dogs, almost twice the number.
Birds And Rodents Dander
Birds and rodents (hamsters, mice, guinea pigs, etc) can also shed dander when they groom themselves. However, these pets only form a small portion of the pet population in the USA.
Dogs take the lead at 32% of households and cats at 27%
Symptoms Of Pet Dander Allergies
When you get an allergy flare up, you might feel as if you are having a cold as the symptoms are rather similar.
However, the bad thing about pet allergens is that it can be rather hard to remove hence your allergic reaction can be a daily affair.
Here are some of the common symptoms:
- Itchy and runny nose
- Swollen, red and watery eyes
- Nasal congestion
- Muscle aches
There are also different severities of animal dander allergic reactions that can range from mild to life-threatening.
If you have a more server reaction, you might also experience the following:
- Difficulty breathing
- Chest tightness or pain
- Trouble sleeping caused by shortness of breath
Symptoms are always isolated to the respiratory system. If your pet licks you, it can cause a reaction to your skin. Your skin can get itchy and inflamed
How Long Does Pet Dander Stay In The House?
It can take a very long time to completely get rid of pet dander at home. It can take up to 4 to 6 months of proper cleaning to totally get rid of dander in the house even if the pet is no longer around.
So even if you have no pets and the previous homeowner did, you can still be affected by the leftover dander when you move in.
How To Reduce Pet Dander At Home?
Given that animal dander is so microscopic and floats easily in the air, it can be difficult to completely eliminate pet dander. However, these below steps can at least ensure that it is possible to remove pet dander and keep it at a bare minimum.
Keep The Pet Out Of The Bedroom
This is the most important step and one that can be a game-changer for allergy sufferers. Do not allow your pet into your room at all.
The bedroom is where you spend a good 6-8hrs and the last thing you want is to spend the whole night breathing in dander and waking up feeling like crap.
Dogs are easy to train when teaching them about rooms that they can’t enter. Cats on the other hand can be a bit more challenging.
You can check out our article which shows you how to train your cat to not enter a room.
Brush Your Pet Regularly
It is important that you brush your pet regularly to get rid of any loose fur and dander from its body. Do not brush inside the house which can cause the dander to float all over the place.
Do it outside and with a mask on.
How often you brush your pet also depends on the type of fur that they have. Breeds like the Golden Retriever or the Persian cat tend to shed more as they have longer fur.
It would be ideal to brush them at least once a day or every other day.
When you dispose of the loose fur, don’t just dump it in the bin inside the house. Tie it up in a plastic bag before throwing it away.
Vacuum Your Home
Vacuum cleaners are a godsend when removing pet dander at home. Vacuuming your home and areas where you hang out regularly is an effective way to get rid of pet dander.
Get a vacuum cleaner that has filters good enough to capture pet dander from the surface. Otherwise, the dander might just float back into the air again.
Don’t forget to also vacuum your tabletops, sofas or any surface that can collect dust.
Don’t Use Carpets
Pet dander tends to stick to softer surfaces like carpets as compared to harder surfaces like wooden flooring. Plus carpet tends to act like velcro for loose fur.
If possible, pet owners remove any carpets at home so that they can reduce the amount of pet dander lying around on the ground.
Improve Indoor Air Quality At Home
One good way to improve the air quality at home is to use air filters. Not just ordinary air filters but HEPA filters.
HEPA air filters work a lot better than normal air purifiers because they can effectively remove very small particles in the air, up to 0.3 microns.
The size of dander is about 2.5 microns hence a HEPA air purifier is able to remove dander from the air that you breathe.
Put a HEPA filter in rooms that you spend most of your time in like the living room and bedroom.
Don’t forget to also change out or wash the HEPA filter regularly.
Clean Your Air Ducts
Pet dander isn’t just on the surfaces and pets but also in HVAC system and air ducts. It would be best to engage an HVAC professional to do a proper air duct cleaning.
They have the right equipment to ensure that your air ducts are clean and dander free.
Rehoming Your Pet
There might come a point in time when you have tried everything in your power and still can’t avoid an allergy flareup. Some pet owners have no choice when the allergy flareups start to be life-threatening.
If you already have an existing pet allergy, my advice to you is to not take on a pet thinking that it might be possible to avoid a reaction.
Chances are you won’t be able to completely prevent your allergies from happening.
It will be a very sad day for your pet if you have no choice to rehome it after years of ownership.
For pet owners that have developed a very serious pet dander allergy after years of owning your pet, don’t just abandon or drop your pet off at the shelter.
At the very least, make a good effort to find your pet the next best possible home before you say goodbye to your furry friend.
Pet Dander Allergy Symptoms