Pet Dander, Dust Bunnies and other household pets
How many times have you heard a person say “I’m allergic to cats” or “I’m allergic to dogs”? They are in all likelihood allergic to the pet dander that is constantly shed by our pets, rather than the animal itself. Identifying the source of indoor allergies can be straightforward at times. In some cases consultation with an experienced physician may be necessary. Once identified steps can be taken to eliminate the source or at the very least mitigate its effects.
What is Pet Dander
Dander consists of dead skin, hair, and even feathers. Anything that can be shed or sloughed off is dander. Humans produce dander as well as the usual suspects. When enough of this material accumulates it can appear as a clump or small ball of “stuff”. Dust bunnies are easy enough to manage; thy can be swept up or vacuumed up and simply discarded. Once you start seeing bunnies you can be sure that there is a significant quantity of potential allergens in the indoor environment. Dust bunnies are for most of us nothing more than a housekeeping chore. Pet dander, like any other airborne allergen can make its presence known well before the bunny stage by producing an allergic reaction such itchy eyes, a runny nose, etc. Like all upper respiratory allergies these reactions complicate other respiratory illnesses. Some individuals are remarkably sensitive to even small amounts of dander.
How small is Pet Dander
Animal dander is extremely light-weight and tiny in size 75% of animal dander is 5-10 microns and can be removed by most media type air filters. 25% of dander are 2.5 microns and need an electrostatic or HEPA air filter to remove them. Pet dander can stay airborne for hours. Dog and Cat dander are very common allergens present in house dust. Older animals produce more dander than younger ones, because their skin is drier. Exposure to cat or dog allergens, where the animals are present can be up to 100 times higher than dust mite allergens. Several web pages delve deeper into more specifics of this problem.
How to solve Pet Dander issues
Like other allergens of this type, the optimal solution is the elimination of the source of the problem. However, the nature of pet ownership makes this proposition rather difficult for many people. Our pets become members of the family. There are options available short of giving up a pet for adoption.
The basic strategy is the same as with other airborne allergens. One of the important differences is that pets should not be allowed in sleeping areas. Clean the bedding of pets regularly to prevent a build up of pet dander. Washing your dog achieves modest reduction in the amount of allergens. Washing should be done twice a week to truly reduce the presence of the nuisance. The use of HEPA filters in vacuum cleaners as well as air filtration equipment in the sleeping areas of susceptible individuals is advisable. The Maxum air purifier will clean the air of pet dander in larger living areas. An Excel model placed in a bedroom will protect those who suffer from dander allergies while they sleep. To help with a Pet Dander problem through out the entire home a LakeAir LAD Air Purifier unit is a great answer.
Pet dander represents an important public health problem in that research has shown that pet dander related health care costs in excess of a half billion dollars per year. What is a nuisance for most of us is a significant drain on the economy. The National Institutes of Health has devoted considerable resources to this issue. However, researchers do not as yet have a complete understanding of how individuals become sensitized or the mechanism of allergic reactions to dander. While symptomatic relief is possible through the use of prescription and OTC drugs A consultation with an physician is recommended for those individuals with moderate to severe reactions as well as individuals with heath issues that might be complicated by these reactions. It is also recommended that a veterinarian be consulted to determine if a treatment might reduce or even eliminate the problem at its source.