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August 26, 2019

Your beloved family pet could be making you cough and sneeze.

What is Pet Dander?

Pet dander is composed of tiny, microscopic flecks of skin that are shed by cats, dogs, rodents, birds and other animals with fur or feathers. These bits of skin can cause reactions in people who are specifically allergic to these triggers.1 Many of these particles are small enough to get into the lungs, and can cause minor irritation, to severe breathing problems. I found this out the hard way with my youngest son.

An Allergic Reaction

It was New Years Day and we were at my grandfather’s for dinner. He had a big, fluffy dog named Raven that all of the kids loved to play with. My son suddenly began coughing and rubbing his eyes. I chalked it up to the start of a winter cold, but as the coughing fits got worse, I started to worry. I put him down for a nap in the bedroom and he stopped coughing almost immediately. Once he woke and was back in the living room, the cough returned. He was coughing so hard that I had to take him outside for some fresh air. I made an emergency call to our pediatrician and they scheduled an appointment for the following day.

This was my first experience with animal allergies. I had finally put two and two together and made a connection with my son’s symptoms and the dog in the room versus out of the room. But be aware that an allergic reaction can happen even if the affected person hasn’t been near an animal. Allergens can be carried on clothing and can get into the air when an animal is petted or groomed. The dander can settle on floors and furniture, which can become a problem if not removed thoroughly.

For some people, like my son, exposure to some animals can cause severe breathing problems. Highly sensitive people can begin coughing, wheezing and having shortness of breath within 10 minutes of inhaling animal dander.

Suggestions to Help with Pet Allergies2:

  • Remove your pet from the bedroom. One-third to one-half of your time at home is spent here. Keep the bedroom door closed and clean the bedroom aggressively. Make sure to frequently wash your bed sheets and blankets. You might want to consider using a better-than-HEPA air cleaner in your bedroom. 
  • Keep surfaces throughout the home clean and uncluttered. Allergens are everywhere, so frequently vacuum and use a dusting attachment to remove dust and dander from your floors, furniture and drapery.
  • If you have to have carpet, select one with a low pile and steam clean it often. If you use throw rugs, wash them in hot water. 
  • Change and wash your clothing after prolonged exposure with an animal. 
  • Use multiple air cleaners with better-than-HEPA filters throughout your home to help reduce airborne allergens.
  • Wash and brush your pet outside every week to help reduce the amount of pet dander.
  • Clean the litter box or cage as much as possible.
cat hair dander air purifier

The FilterQueen® Defender® portable room air cleaner will help keep the air in your home clean and odor free so you can enjoy your pet even more! It is recognized by the FDA as a Class II Medical Device, and filters 99.99% of airborne pollutants down to 0.1 micron.

1https://www.lung.org/our-initiatives/healthy-air/indoor/indoor-air-pollutants/pet-dander.html
2https://www.aafa.org/pet-dog-cat-allergies/

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Post Author: Kim Reising