Pets and Allergies Under the Same Roof
Owning a pet can be one of life’s great pleasures. They relieve stress, help us get out and exercise more, and can be a great sounding board. They are always happy to see us and make great companions. But if you suffer from allergies or asthma, they can quickly go from best friend to worst enemy.
That is the case in my house. My wife and I love animals and have always had a pet of some sort around. But my wife suffers from allergies and pet dander can play havoc on her health. In order for us to keep pets we have to take extra steps to keep the pet dander and dust down in our house. Here are some of the things we do to keep our exposure to pet dander to a minimum.
Keep floors clean. If someone in your house suffers from allergens then you have to step up your floor cleaning. Vacuuming floors regularly is an effective way to reduce the allergens that collect on bare floors, rugs, and carpets. However, vacuuming may kick up allergens into the air. If possible, vacuum when the person suffering from allergies is away. Also use a HEPA filter in your vacuum.
Deep clean. If you have carpets, get them on a regular basis. This will help remove the allergens that regular vacuuming won’t remove. Also consider steam cleaning your furniture as well. Vacuum couches, chairs, drapes and other fabrics that may collect allergens. Periodically wash throw rugs, pillows, pet beds and blankets. Make sure not to forget cleaning ceiling fans and light fixtures.
Keep litter boxes clean. Litter boxes should be kept clean and moved out of living areas. We keep ours in the garage and the cats can access it through a pet door from the house. If you have cages for birds or rodents or crate your pets make sure to keep these clean. If possible, move these to areas of the house that the allergy sufferer doesn’t frequent.
Bathe your pet regularly. Frequently washing your pet has been shown to reduce allergens, but this is more effective for dogs than it is for cats. Not only does bathing reduce dander but it also washes off any pollen your pet may have picked up from rolling in the grass or brush. Reduce allergens from your cat
A good diet means less dander. Many mistakenly believe that allergies come from an animal’s hair. However, most allergic reactions result from exposure to dander, which are the dead flaky skin cells on pets. A good well balanced diet will help cut down on dander. Also consider adding fish oil to your pet’s food to keep their skin and coat shiny and healthy.
Control air circulation. If you have allergies, consider and changing them more often than is typically required. Consider closing heat registers in rooms where the person with allergies spends much of their time. Be wary of turning on fans as this may stir up dander and other allergens.
Designate pet free areas. Keep pets off couches, upholstered furniture, and beds. Restricting pets from specific rooms, such as bedrooms, can also help the allergy sufferer. Consider keeping pets out of the vehicle, or at least allowing them only in the far back.
These are many of the steps we take to maintain a balance between our pets and my wife’s allergies. Although keeping up with cleaning this much can be a headache, it pays off in being able to have pets in our house.
Sean Armstrong is an advocate for clean air and healthy living. He tends to worry about too many things he can’t control, and has recently been following environmental issues and sharing what he learns with others.