If you have a pet, you probably think of your furry friend as part of your family. If someone in your home develops pet allergies, the news can be devastating. Allergic reactions can vary in severity. Mild symptoms are barely tolerable at best, while extreme reactions can lead to a trip to the emergency room. Suddenly you’re faced with a big decision: Will Fido need a new home? Will the allergy sufferer choose to endure the symptoms rather than give up their beloved friend?
improve indoor air quality today.
Pet Allergy Basics
Like people, pets constantly shed dead skin cells, known as pet dander, throughout the day. The dander as well as the pet’s urine and saliva contain proteins that cause allergic reactions in those with immune systems that are sensitive to it. While this allergen is harmless for most people, those with the sensitivity can experience symptoms ranging from dry, itchy eyes and a stuffy nose to severe breathing problems. According to the Asthma and Allergy Foundation of America, 15 to 30 percent of people who have allergies have allergic reactions to pets.
The allergens will stick to walls, floors and furniture and can maintain their potency for several months. When you groom your pet or turn on the HVAC system, for example, you’re effectively wafting these allergens throughout the air where they will remain airborne for quite some time. Since pet dander will easily adhere to clothing, it can even be transported to homes without pets.
Improving Indoor Air Quality to Reduce Allergic Symptoms
After an allergist has examined you and confirmed you have pet allergies, he or she may give you an allergy shot and prescribe medication to help keep it under control. In addition, by doing the following you can significantly improve your indoor air quality and decrease the symptoms of pet allergies:
- Use an air cleaner for at least four hours every day. Models are available as whole-house systems or room units, and both will help remove the amount of dander that’s in your home. Some purifiers come with meters that will indicate your indoor air quality level so you know when you need to be extra diligent about cleaning your environment. Additionally, you should choose one that comes with a high efficiency particulate air (HEPA) filter that can be cleaned. Be aware that a good deal of modifications must be done to most residential HVAC systems before being able to install a real HEPA system because of airflow problems.
- Bathe your dog or cat weekly. Brush your pet daily outside, preferably by someone who doesn’t have pet allergies.
- Wash your hands right after you pet your cat or dog. Be sure not to touch your eyes until you’ve thoroughly cleaned your hands. If you can’t resist cuddling with your pet (and who could blame you), it’s best you change your clothes afterward, as well.
- Vacuum daily, ideally with one that has a HEPA filtration system. Steam clean your carpets regularly.
- Dust your home with a damp cloth twice a week and put on a dust mask while doing so.
- Always keep pets out the bedrooms of anyone who is allergic.
- If you have a forced air HVAC system, you should have it maintained every few months.
- Don’t allow pets on your furniture. Buy them their own cushy bed and clean it in hot water every week.
- Keep your home as well ventilated as possible by using exhaust fans and opening your windows when possible.
- Cover bedroom vents of allergy sufferers with cheesecloth or another dense filtering material, particularly if you have a forced air system since such systems distributes allergens throughout your home.
- Place any litter boxes in areas where the home’s circulation system won’t pick up the allergens as easily. Those with allergies should avoid changing the litter, or should wear a mask and gloves.
For more information on how you can improve indoor air quality and control allergens, please feel free to contact us at Aqua Plumbing & Air.
Written by John Miller