Allergic to your pet? Here are some ways to help.
All animals with hair, fur or feathers can cause allergic reactions in people. Dander, the tiny dead skin particles that animals shed, is a particular source of misery, as well as other culprits including proteins in saliva, urine and secretions from oil glands in the skin.
Pet allergens settle on an animal’s fur or feathers and can be dispersed into the air, settling into a person’s eyes and nose as well as clothing, furniture, rugs, and curtains. These allergens are transmitted throughout a home via air-conditioning and heating ducts.
These tiny dander particles are remarkably persistent. Even after a pet has left the premises and a house has been thoroughly cleaned, allergens can remain embedded in furniture and carpeting for weeks.
Yet there are steps you can take to co-exist more comfortably with your pet.
Most experts advise to clean thoroughly and often — both your house and your pet. To remove dust and dander, use damp or electrostatic dust cloths, a damp mop and vacuum with a HEPA filter or a micro-filter bag that trap allergens. Pay special attention to problem areas such as ceiling fans, which are notorious dust collectors. Frequently wash articles such as bedding, couch covers and pillows, curtains, pet cages and beds.
And while they may not love it (understatement), bathing your pet on a weekly basis can reduce the level of allergens on fur by as much as 84 per cent. Products are available that claim to reduce pet allergens when sprayed or wiped on an animal’s fur, but studies indicate they are less effective than a weekly bath. Even finicky felines, surprisingly enough, can become accustomed to being bathed.
Here, some additional steps to ease allergic reactions:
— Create a pet-free zone. Designate a room in your home, preferably the bedroom, to be pet-free. While you can’t prevent dander from sticking to your clothes and shoes and finding its way into your bedroom, keeping your cat or dog out will reduce the levels of allergen in that one room.
— Use special bedding. Allergen-resistant bedding helps to prevent pet dander from settling on your bed. Avoid feather pillows and down comforters, and keep the bed free of dust collectors like stuffed animals.