(Last Updated On: May 6, 2023)

What Is Pet Dander and How to Get Rid of Pet Dander in Your Home?

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 indoor air quality 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.

pet dander in the home

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 tiny particles of 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 or cat’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. Pet dander, a regular allergen, may bring on an allergic reaction in those who are susceptible to it. By understanding how air purifiers and HVAC systems can impact potential allergic reactions to pet dander, we can better protect ourselves from these allergens.

What Does Pet Dander Look Like?

Pet dander looks like tiny flakes or specks of dust when viewed up close. It may also appear as white or grayish-white flecks on furniture or clothing where pets have been present.

What Causes Pet Dander?

The main cause of pet dander is shedding from the animal’s coat. As your furry friend moves around your home, their skin cells flake off into the air along with saliva droplets and bits of fur from grooming themselves or playing with toys and furniture. Even if you don’t see any visible signs of pet hair in your house, there could still be microscopic amounts floating around that are causing an allergic reaction in someone nearby who has a sensitivity to pet allergens.

Does Pet Dander Smell?

In some cases, yes; however, not all pet owners will notice this odor since they are used to living with their four-legged friends every day. It’s not until you have friends over, or if you try to sell your house, that you may realize you have an odor problem. If you do detect a musty smell coming from your pet’s bedding area, then it could indicate an excess amount of dander buildup which needs to be removed immediately for health reasons. This can be done using either steam cleaning methods or special dusting sprays designed specifically for removing animal allergens from fabrics and surfaces in homes where pets live regularly.

What Are Pet Dander Allergy Symptoms?

Symptoms of pet dander allergies may include sneezing, coughing, watery eyes, runny nose and asthma-like symptoms such as wheezing or difficulty breathing. People who suffer from severe allergies may need medication when exposed to certain levels of pet allergens so it’s important for them to take steps towards reducing their exposure whenever possible. Keeping pet dander out of the bedroom can help you sleep better too!

How Long Does Pet Dander Stay In The House?

Pet dander can remain in the house for a long time, making it important to take steps to reduce its presence. By keeping pets off furniture and bathing them regularly as well as cleaning air ducts and getting an air purifier, you can greatly reduce pet dander down in your home.

When it comes to air ducts and HVAC systems, pet dander particles are small enough to travel through these systems easily. As they move throughout the system they can collect on surfaces like fans or filters where they will linger until being disturbed by activity such as cleaning or maintenance work. This means that even if you don’t have pets living in your home anymore there could still be lingering pet dander in your air ducts which could trigger allergic reactions for people with sensitivities to animal fur or hair.

It can take up to six months to rid your home of the pet dander since the allergen attaches itself to household dust.

How to Get Rid of Pet Dander

Short of getting rid of your pet, which is an extreme measure, there’s really no way to remove 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 get rid of cat dander in your home 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 own pet allergies more 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 of the Furniture

The best step to reducing pet dander is to keep pets off furniture as much as possible. Since pet dander hangs in the air, there’s no way to truly keep it off your furniture. But keeping pets off the furniture will help limit the amount of fur and dander that gets left behind on upholstery and carpets.

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 cat 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 air filters. HEPA stands for high efficiency particulate and air filter 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. An air purifier with a HEPA filter can be helpful in snaring the airborne particles and allergens that may otherwise wind up in your respiratory system.

Clean Regularly

Vacuuming regularly also helps remove any loose hair or skin cells before they become airborne allergens. 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 along with dust and dust mites. The dander is sticky and will latch on to any surface, so regular household cleaning is important to get rid of as much get rid of cat dander on it as possible.

Bathe Your Pet Regularly

Make sure you give your cat allergies animal a bath often – once a week is recommended. Bathing pets regularly can also go a long way towards reducing pet dander levels inside the house. Bathing removes dried and dead skin cells and excess oils from their coat which would otherwise be released into the air as airborne allergens when they move around or groom themselves throughout the day. It is essential to employ hypoallergenic shampoos when washing pets, in order to keep from introducing any additional triggers into the indoor atmosphere. 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. Cleaning out air ducts periodically will ensure all those pesky little hairs don’t get stuck inside them over time – which could eventually lead to poor indoor air quality due to trapped dust mites and bacteria breeding within them. A professional HVAC technician should be able to come out every few years for an inspection and cleaning if necessary, but getting an annual checkup on things like furnace filters is always a good idea regardless just to make sure everything is running smoothly at all times. A professional duct cleaning service can get rid of existing pet dander and other contaminants inside the duct work of your house.

Does Shaving Your Pet Help With Allergies?

Shaving a furry companion may appear to be an efficient way of diminishing pet-induced allergy symptoms, but it is not necessarily the most beneficial approach. While shaving can help reduce some of the fur and dander that cause allergies, there are also potential drawbacks that need to be considered.

The Pros of Shaving Your Pets:

One advantage of shaving your pet is that it can help reduce the amount of fur and dander in your home. This means less allergen-causing particles floating around in the air for you or anyone else with allergies to breathe in. It can also make grooming easier since there will be less fur for you to brush through.

The Cons of Shaving Your Pets:

Unfortunately, while shaving may help reduce allergens, it doesn’t eliminate them entirely. In addition, if done improperly or too often, it could damage your pet’s coat or skin which could lead to irritation and infection. Also depending on how much hair is shaved off at once this could lead to sunburns due to overexposure as well as making them more susceptible to cold temperatures during winter months when their coats aren’t able grow back quickly enough for protection against extreme weather conditions outdoors.

If you want an effective way of reducing allergens from pets without having any negative effects on their health then getting an air purifier specifically designed for removing pet dander would be a better option than just simply shaving them down completely bald. Air purifiers come equipped with HEPA filters that capture small particles such as dust mites, pollen, mold spores, smoke etc., but they are especially helpful when dealing with pet dander since these tiny pieces tend to float around longer than other types of airborne pollutants. Vacuuming regularly (at least once a week) using a vacuum cleaner with a HEPA filter attached can also go a long way towards keeping levels low indoors so don’t forget about doing this either.

Best Air Purifier to Get Rid of Pet Dander

When selecting an the best air purifier to get rid of pet dander, it is important to consider a model with a high-efficiency particulate air (HEPA) filter. First and foremost, you’ll want an air purifier that has a high-efficiency particulate air filter. This type of filter is designed to trap small particles like dust mites, pollen, mold spores and pet dander so they can’t be recirculated into your home. It also helps reduce odors from pets as well as other airborne pollutants.

When searching for an air purifier, the Clean Air Delivery Rate (CADR) should be taken into account; this metric gauges how rapidly a unit can filter smoke, dust and pollen from the atmosphere in cubic feet per minute. CADR measures how quickly the unit can remove smoke, dust and pollen from the air in cubic feet per minute. A higher CADR rating indicates better performance at removing airborne allergens like pet dander.

An ionizer or electrostatic precipitator may prove to be a beneficial addition to your air purifier. Negative ions emitted by an ionizer attach themselves to positively charged particles such as pet dander, causing them to drop out of the airstream and become collected by your HEPA filter or settle on surfaces in your home. An electrostatic precipitator functions similarly but instead uses static electricity for trapping allergens before releasing filtered air back into the environment. Keywords: Air Purifier, Ionizer, Electrostatic Precipitator, Particles, Pet Dander

For those with deeper pockets, UV light technology may prove to be a valuable asset in reducing airborne allergens such as pet dander, bacteria and viruses that could otherwise contaminate indoor spaces over time without proper filtration systems. These ultraviolet rays shine onto surfaces within enclosed spaces, killing off any microorganisms present while simultaneously cutting down on the levels of allergen-causing irritants found floating around indoors. This type of system is ideal for those with allergies who need an extra layer of protection against these kinds of pollutants beyond what traditional filters can offer.

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The Bottom Line

Pet dander will stick around as long as you have a pet. How to get rid of pet dander seems like an never ending question. Unless you turn your home into a clean pet dander-free zone, you’ll always have cat dander and other 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, (don’t forget the lint roller) as well as routinely bathe and groom your pet. Adding an air purifier with the right air filters will help reduce your allergy symptoms. Keeping your home and pet clean will make everyone happy.