What is Pet Dander and How Long Does It Stay In The House?
By Becky Dotson
12 min read
No doubt we love our pets. They can certainly bring a lot of joy to our lives, but they can also fill our homes with more than their love and companionship, they can also fill our homes with pet dander. Oftentimes, the dander that our pets shed can trigger allergies and cause breathing problems. It’s a common misconception that the hair animals shed cause allergy issues. In fact, it’s not their hair at all; it’s the dander coming off their skin that will cause you to cough, sneeze and sniffle.
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What is Pet Dander?
Pet dander is tiny, dead flecks of skin shed by any animal with fur or feathers – but in our homes it mostly comes from cats, dogs, pet birds and pet rodents like hamsters or guinea pigs. It is, for the most part, microscopic and can’t be seen with the naked eye. But whether you can see it or not, all animals with fur or feathers shed dander, so there’s really no such thing as a hypoallergenic pet. Some animals just may shed more than others.
Proteins found in your pet’s saliva, urine and feces can also be the source of allergy issues. When an animal cleans itself, its saliva will dry on the fur, become airborne and can be inhaled by anyone who comes in contact with it. Proteins from an animal’s urine and feces dry in much the same way as saliva and then settle into dust inside our home, making it easier to be breathed in.
It can take up to six months to rid your home of the pet dander since the allergen attaches itself to household dust.
How Do I Get Rid of Pet Dander?
Short of getting rid of your pet, which is an extreme measure, there’s really no way to get rid of pet dander and allergens in your home. If you have a pet allergy and your symptoms are severe, finding a new home for your pet may be your only option. And even then, it can take up to six months to rid your home of the pet dander since the allergen attaches itself to household dust.
But if you’re keeping your dog or cat, there are some ways to control and minimize pet dander and keep your allergies in check.
Have an ‘allergy free’ zone
Have one place in your home, preferably your bedroom, where your pet is not allowed. Allergies generally flare up at night when you lie down, so keeping your four-legged friend out of the bedroom is important. Keep the bedroom door closed at all times, if possible. Use allergen-free covers on your mattress and pillows. Vacuum the carpet or floor regularly, dust often and wash your sheets in hot water at least once a week.
Keep your pet off the furniture
Since pet dander hangs in the air, there’s no way to truly keep it off your furniture. But you can reduce the amount of it if you keep your animals from getting on the couch and chairs. Don’t let them lay on the furniture and keep your cats from walking on countertops and tables. That will help cut down on the amount of dander that’s stuck to the surfaces inside your home. You may also consider keeping them outside as much as possible to cut down on the dander that gets spread around inside.
Buy an air purifier
The best air purifiers run with HEPA filters. HEPA stands for high efficiency particulate air and the filters are designed to pull more than 99 percent of the smallest contaminants out of the air, sending fresh, clean air back out. It may be best to put the air purifier in a common area of your home, like the living room, so everyone can benefit from it. Air purifiers can be a big investment, but if you can afford to buy more than one, you may want to purchase an air purifier for your bedroom, as well.
No one enjoys cleaning, but it’s important to vacuum, sweep and dust at least once a week to cut down on the pet dander in your home. The dander is sticky and will latch on to any surface, so regular household cleaning is important to get rid of as much of it as possible.
Bathe your pet regularly
Make sure you give your animal a bath often – once a week is recommended. It will help remove dried and dead skin cells that can be allergy triggers. In between baths, brush your cat or animal outside to get dead skins cells off their bodies and minimize the amount that gets inside your home.
Clean your air ducts
Lots of things get pulled into and settle in the duct work of our home. A professional duct cleaning service can get rid of existing pet dander and other contaminants inside the duct work of your house.
Pet dander will stick around as long as you have a pet. Unless you turn your home into a pet-free zone, you’ll always have pet dander inside. Just like humans, animals shed dead skin cells regularly, so all you can truly do is reduce the amount of pet dander you have. That’s why it’s important to regularly clean your home, as well as routinely bathe and groom your pet. Keeping your home and pet clean will make everyone happy.