Pets can be your best friends, but if you have allergies or asthma, they can also be your worst enemy. Pets shed dander, a combination of dead skin cells and hair (or feathers), which can trigger asthma attacks and allergic reactions in some people. However, you can cut down on pet allergens at home.
Pets can be your best friends. If you have allergies or asthma, they can also be your worst enemy.
Cute but hazardous
Pets shed dander, a combination of dead skin cells and hair (or feathers), which can trigger asthma attacks and allergic reactions in people who are sensitive to the allergens. (Cold-blooded pets such as snakes and turtles do not produce dander.)
Some guidelines recommend that people with allergies or asthma avoid keeping pets—especially cats. If a doctor says that you—or your child’s—allergies or asthma is aggravated by dander, you may ultimately need to find a new home for your pet. However, there are several ways you can cut down on pet allergens at home.
You can reduce dander in your home by keeping your pet outdoors as much as possible. At the very least, you should bar pets from bedrooms where people with allergies or asthma sleep.
Children with allergies should also avoid petting or touching animals. If they do come into contact with a pet, they should wash their hands thoroughly. Restricting pets to rooms with wood floors may also help. Wood flooring traps less dander than carpet and is easier to clean; keeping pets off carpet may help cut down on allergens.
Keep Fluffy off the couch
Keeping pets off carpets, upholstered furniture, and beds can reduce exposure to dander. (Using allergen-resistant bedding will help fend off any dander that does find its way into bedrooms.) Keeping pets out of cars—or restricting them to a tailgate area, if possible—is also a good idea.
In addition, any furniture, fabrics, or materials that pets do come into contact with should be vacuumed or washed frequently. This includes throw rugs, pet beds, cushions, pillows, and blankets.
Clean, clean, clean
Dusting as often as possible will keep dander (as well as dust mites and other allergens) to a minimum. Vacuuming, however, may not get all the allergens from the lower levels of a rug and may stir up a bit of dander as you clean. It may help to use vacuums equipped with a high-efficiency particulate air (HEPA) filter or double bags. However, it’s still a good idea to dust or vacuum when the person with allergies or asthma is not at home.
Replacing wall-to-wall carpets with wood floors will make it easier to remove dander.
Originally posted at: http://www.health.com/health/gallery/0,,20307037_2,00.html