What is Dander and How Do You Eliminate it in Your Bedroom?
Learn More About Dander and Ways to Keep it Out of the Bedroom
By Becky Dotson
12 min read
We love our pets – dogs, cats, birds, rabbits, and all the other creatures we adopt, take care of, play with, and love on. We welcome them into our homes and make them part of the family. And while the animal hair you vacuum up and dust off may get a little old, the dander they shed can make for more significant problems. Pet dander can trigger a wide variety of allergy problems in humans.
What is Dander?
Pet dander is the dead flakes of skin that comes off your furry family member’s body, and it can be shed by any animal who has fur, hair, or feathers. It can also be found in their dried saliva, urine, and sweat. The particles are often so tiny they usually can’t be seen with the naked eye. And dander is so small it may linger in the air long before it settles, making it easier for you or anyone in your home to inhale. It can also stick to your clothes, collect easily on curtains, drapes, and upholstered furniture, and get trapped in carpet, rugs, and bedding. In short – those tiny little particles can cause a big problem, especially if you have allergies.
For that reason, some people tend to favor dog or cat breeds that are considered ‘hypoallergenic.’ That word is used for animals that don’t shed much or have much fur. While there are particular breeds of dogs and cats that may not shed a lot of hair, they will still shed dander and even create allergy issues.
It’s Not Just Your Pets
Your pets aren’t the only ones who shed dander. It comes off of you and every other person you know. It comes in the form of dandruff and other small particles your skin sheds over the day. While no one even notices it most of the time, dandruff flakes can cause concern and embarrassment. It’s usually a sign of skin dryness or inflammation. There are over the counter shampoos and treatments you can use to help with it. However, if it’s too much of a nuisance for you – check with your doctor immediately for treatment.
Dander and Allergies
What our pets shed can cause everything from a mild annoyance to a cleaning obsession. But the dander that comes off them can create allergy issues. Allergies happen when your immune system encounters what it considers to be a foreign substance. Even though it’s not harmful to you, your immune system reacts in a way that makes your body think it is. You will then produce antibody proteins to protect against the allergen and prevent you from getting sick or infected.
Once your immune system identifies something like dander, pollen, or dust as foreign, it will react every time you come in contact with it – usually by creating inflammation in your nasal passages or lungs. Prolonged or regular exposure can cause more severe issues like asthma. Sometimes, an allergy to your furry family member can cause problems with your skin. As a result, dermatitis can cause itchy skin, hives, and eczema.
Allergy symptoms can be miserable. If pet dander is the trigger – you can expect the following issues:
- Runny or congested nose
- Itchy, red, watery eyes
- Itchy nose, throat, or roof of the mouth
- Pressure and pain in the face
- Swollen, blue-colored skin under your eyes
Pet allergy symptoms can be similar to the common cold. But if your symptoms last for more than two weeks or seem to be more chronic, you may want to see your doctor because it may very well be an allergy.
Which Animals Pose the Biggest Dander Problems?
When it comes to dander, some pets are more significant problems than others. According to the American Lung Association cats are the main culprit. Twenty-seven percent of homes in the United States have cats as pets, whereas 32 percent have dogs. But studies show about twice as many people are allergic to cats rather than dogs. And it seems like male cats may be more of an issue than female ones. But researchers do not know or understand why.
Fur seems to be more of a dander carrier than feathers or animals without fur, but fur, feathers or not, all animals shed dander.
How Do I Prevent Dander?
You’ll find dander all over your home. Since it floats through the air, it will still end up in rooms that are off-limits to your pet—the room with the most significant concentration of dander is likely your bedroom. Many people let Fido and Fluffy sleep with them or near them, resulting in six to eight hours of dander shedding in one particular place. Since allergy symptoms tend to worsen when we lie down or go to sleep – dander can result in big breathing problems. So, how do you get rid of it?
Invest in an Air Purifier – One of the best ways to get rid of pet dander is by purifying the air in your home. An air purifier is a sound investment that can reduce more than 99 percent of the particles circulating in the air in your home. You may want to consider buying two separate ones – one for the bedroom and one for the house’s living space.
It’s vital to purchase a purifier that filters out pet hair and dander. Look for ones that run with HEPA filters – they are the most effective. You’ll find our top recommendations for the best purifiers for pet dander at the end of this article.
Let Your Pet Sleep Somewhere Else – Having another area of the house other than your bedroom for your pet to bed down for the night is crucial if you have an allergy to pet dander. It may be hard initially to make that choice and stick with it, but your body will thank you in the long run. If the allergy is bad enough, you may want to consider a way to make your indoor pet an outdoor pet.
Clean Regularly – Vacuum your carpet and rugs, dust your furniture and wash your curtains and bedding regularly. Steam cleaning as often as possible can help get to the dander that might have settled deeper down in the fabric. Rubbing sticky lint rollers across furniture and other surfaces can also help cut down on dander.
Give Your Pet a Bath – Having a routine bathing schedule for your pet is essential. It will help keep them clean and cut down on the dander that gets shed in your home. Be sure to use appropriate shampoo for your particular pet. You don’t want to dry your animal’s skin out – that can cause more dander and result in itchy skin.
Brush Your Pet’s Hair – Take your beloved animal outside and give them a good brushing regularly. It will help rid their skin and fur of the dander that would otherwise end up in your house. If dander causes you problems, be sure and wear a mask while you brush, so you can cut down on how much dander you inhale.
Clean Your Air Ducts – There are plenty of things besides dander that gets trapped in your home’s air duct system. Having a professional clean your air ducts on an annual or semi-annual basis will help reduce the particles floating around in your home.
Opt for New Flooring – Carpet is soft on the feet but can harbor all kinds of things, including dander. New flooring is a significant investment, but consider hardwood floors or tiles in your bedroom if it’s time for a change. If you choose to replace the carpet with carpet – it’s best to choose one with a low pile.
Top 5 Recommendations for Air Purifiers to Eliminate Pet Dander
Air purifiers are an excellent investment, whether you have a pet or not. They are designed to take irritants out of the air, trap them in filters, and send purified or cleaner air back out. When looking for one, be sure you choose one that will clean your space. Each purifier has a maximum square footage area it covers. It won’t run or clean as effectively if the room you put it in is larger than the space it is designed to cover.
You’ll also want to make sure the purifier you chose uses a HEPA filter. HEPA filters pull more than 99 percent of the smallest particles out of the air. So, it will be able to not only trap pet hair but dander as well.