The Tribune Star reports that bathing pets weekly will reduce allergens by 84 percent!
“Pet dander” refers to small flakes of skin, but allergens are also present in saliva and urine (which often dry on the skin or fur). Once dry, pet dander can become airborne and remain in the air for hours at a time. When inhaled, the allergen can produce a wide array of symptoms from sniffling to severe asthma attacks.
Despite their allergy symptoms, two million Americans who are allergic to cats have at least one in their home. Most of these people believe that the benefits of owning a pet outweigh the difficulties of allergies. (Indeed, some studies show that owning a pet can reduce high blood pressure and confer other health benefits.)
Don’t be fooled by claims that some pets are “non-allergenic.” Even hairless breeds can cause allergies. However, some breeds, like poodles, may be considered hypoallergenic (less allergenic) because they do not shed their fur as frequently.
If you have a pet and also suffer from allergies, you must focus on controlling the allergen at the source. Frequent pet baths (at least one a week) will wash away pet dander and substantially reduce allergens.
Here are some other tips for reducing pet allergen in the home:
- Never allow pets in your bedroom, and place dust mite proof covers on your pillows and mattress. (Note: Organic dust mite covers from Crescent Moon are now available for the chemically sensitive.)
- Vacuum at least once a week, and make sure that your vacuum cleaner has a HEPA filter. If it’s not HEPA, it cannot capture pet dander.
- Air purifiers eliminate airborne pet dander. We recommend placing air purifiers in bedrooms. (Even if you never allow your pet in your bedroom, dander will still drift into the room.)
- Don’t assume that your pet alone is causing your allergies. If you’ve never been tested, visit an allergist so that you’ll be aware of all your allergens. You cannot practice a successful avoidance strategy if you don’t know exactly what’s causing your allergies.