Allergic to your cat or dog? What is causing your pet allergy? How the right air purifier can help.
Are pet allergies keeping you and your furry friends apart? You’re not alone. According to the Cleveland Clinic, up to 30% of American have a pet allergy, and you are more than twice as likely to have an allergy to cat than to a dog. If you have a dog or cat allergy, the symptoms can still be hard to live with. And they can make it hard to have a pet at all. But do you know the real cause of pet allergies? Contrary to popular belief, it’s not pet fur that’s making you miserable. It’s dander, which is the term for the microscopic skin flakes that are shed by any animal with fur (or feathers). More accurately, it’s certain proteins that are found in pet dander. These proteins are also in pet urine and saliva.
According to the Asthma and Allergy Foundation: “When you have a pet allergy, you are not allergic to the pet’s hair, fur, or feathers. You are allergic to the protein that is found in the pet’s dander (dead skin cells) saliva, and urine. The hair, fur, or feathers collect the dander.”
What exactly is pet dander?
While the fur itself doesn’t cause the allergy, but only pets with fur or feathers shed dander. Dander is another word for dead skin cells or skin flakes. Dog dander and cat dander contain different proteins, which can cause different allergic reactions. So you could have an allergy to cats but not dogs, or dogs but not cats. Or you could be one of a smaller group with allergies to both. Keep in mind, there are other furry pets whose dander can trigger allergies, including hamsters, and rabbits. Birds also release dander.
How does pet dander get into the air?
Shedding fur, scratching, shaking, and simply moving about can cause pet dander to release into the air. Breathing air with pet dander in it can cause an allergic reaction. Dander particles are invisible, and typically range from 2 to 10 microns (humans can typically see particles larger than 25 microns without magnification, and for comparison a visible grain of salt is around 60 microns in diameter). Because of its small size, airborne pet dander can stay suspended in the air an indeterminate amount of time and can take as long as two to three hours to settle to the ground. That settling rate is without room air turbulence. When the air is moving, which happens with every physical movement you make, every inhale and exhale, as well as with ventilation, the microscopic pet dander become airborne again. This why a house with pets, even if the pets aren’t there, can pose big problems for someone with pet allergies. Pet dander can stay in carpets, furniture, and other surfaces for months, continually becoming airborne with movement.
How do I know I have pet allergies?
The symptoms can be similar to other types of allergies, so it is best to discuss them with your medical professional, who may suggest allergy testing. And because dander can exist without a pet in the room, you might not make the pet-allergen connection immediately.
According to the American College of Academy of Allergy, Asthma, and Immunology common symptoms include
- Itchy, watery eyes
- Runny nose
- Skin rash or hives
How to Reduce Pet Dander and Pet Allergy Symptoms
You don’t want to give up having pets in your life, so how do you best reduce your symptoms and remove the allergens? The first step ask your medical professional for guidance. According to the ASPCA:
Find a physician, preferably an allergy specialist, who will make sure that your pet is the cause of your allergies and will help alleviate your symptoms. Medications and immunotherapy (desensitizing shots) can often allow you and your companion animal to remain together happily ever after.
The ASPCA has a comprehensive list of helpful tips and ideas you can do on your own. Here are just a few of them. For the complete, detailed list, visit the ASPCA website
- Create an allergen-free room
- Limit fabrics (as these can collect dander)
- Vacuum frequently
- Install an air purifier
- Clean the litter box frequently. Use low-dust, perfume-free filler.
- Dust regularly. Wiping down the walls will also cut down on allergens.
- Invest in washable pet bedding and cages that can be cleaned often and easily.
- Bathe your pet at least once a week.
- Brush or comb your pet frequently. It’s best to do this outdoors, if possible.
- If possible, have someone other than yourself do the housecleaning, litter box work and pet washing, wiping and brushing.
- Wash your hands after handling your companion animal and before touching your face.
How the right air purifier can help
A good-quality air purifier, sized appropriately for the space and well-maintained, can remove airborne fine pet dander – either when it first is released into the air, or when settled pet dander is released into the air from surfaces. and this may reduce allergy symptoms. It’s a good idea to keep the air purifier on all day and all night, as any air movement can unsettle pet dander and release it into the air.
There can be big differences in performance between types of air purifiers, however, that you should be aware of before selecting one. In addition to filtration of fine and ultrafine particles, it is important to select an air purifier that provides a constant clean airflow. Airflow is the key to removing pet dander. If there is reduced airflow (due to filter clogging) then the rate at which the air gets cleaned of pet dander drops off, sometimes rapidly.
Brio traps fine and ultrafine particles, including pet dander, without filter clogging, so clean airflow and performance stay high between filter changes. Brio's patented Advanced Particle Removal Technology, developed by scientists at the University of Washington, also saves time and money with high-capacity, long-life filter cartridges.
Is Brio better than HEPA for pet dander?
We think so, and here’s why: HEPA air purifiers use a technology that clogs by design so airflow drops off and less air can be cleaned in the same amount of time. Brio delivers a constant, clean airflow for better indoor air quality all day, every day. Compared to Brio, similarly sized HEPA air would need five times as many filter changes to keep the clean airflow at peak level. These differences really add up over years of use. Especially if you have air purifiers in every room. When you add together the purchase price and the cost for filter replacement, Brio can have a much lower cost to own than similarly sized HEPA air purifiers.
Brio’s patented design means effectiveness stays high—and your air stays clean—over the entire period between cartridge replacements. And Brio's long-life, non-clogging particle collection cartridge can last a year or longer before it needs to be changed. Brio saves you time and money while removing airborne pet dander and deep cleaning the air you breathe
In addition, Brio is certified by CARB, the California Air Resources Board (with the most stringent standards in the U.S.) to ensure it is ozone safe.
If you have pet allergies, Brio can be an important addition to your peaceable kingdom. Learn more about Brio