Do you remember right after Obama was elected, his family spent time searching for a “hypoallergenic” dog they could take with them to the white house so his daughter Malia’s allergies wouldn’t be triggered? They ended adopting Bo, a Portuguese Water Dog, under the assumption that he was a safe choice.
Do a quick internet search and you’ll see there are a lot of websites devoted to the topic of “hypoallergenic” dog and cat breeds. But is there really such a thing as a hypoallergenic dog or cat? While some breeds of dogs and cats may be less likely to shed dog or cat hair (poodles or hairless cats, for example), is it the hair that is triggering allergic reaction in people, or something else?
Pet Dander is Not So Dandy
It turns out there is no such thing as a hypoallergenic dog or cat. The major allergen in dogs and cats is a protein that is excreted and shed from dog and cat skin and not their hair. These microscopic flecks of pet skin make it into the environment where they can trigger a reaction in those sensitive to dander.
And, since all dogs and cats have this protein, there really is no such thing as a hypoallergenic breed of dog or cat.
How Can You Eliminate Pet Allergies?
If you are one of those unfortunate individuals with an allergy to dogs and/or cats, you basically have three options:
Option 1. Live without Pets
This has got to be the least pleasant of all three options. Telling someone who loves dogs and cats they will have to live their life without them is like telling someone they have to live without music or a favorite hobby.
Pets fill our lives with joy and are often our truest companions. They never judge us, but accept us fully as we are and offer unconditional love. Life with pets is simply much greater than life without them.
Option 2. Allergy Shots
Okay, allergy shots can help. But let’s take a look at how they really work.
Shots aren’t a cure for allergies, but over time they can help lessen your reaction to whatever it is that is triggering that reaction and/or you may not have the reaction quite as much.
Also called “immunotherapy,” allergy shots must be given in a series. First, you will see your doctor twice a week for several months and get a shot in your upper arm each visit. It will contain a tiny amount of pet dander.
Your dose will gradually increase, and you will eventually get what’s referred to as a “maintenance” dose. You will need to get a shot every 2-4 weeks for 4-5 months, and finally you can get one shot every 3-5 years.
But the thing is, some people go through all of this and they still don’t get much relief from their allergies. These are usually the people who sadly have to find another home for their furry best friend.
Option 3. Use an Air Purifier
We’ve been asked a lot if air purifiers can really help with pet allergies and we are always happy to reply emphatically that YES they really can! The entire job of an air purifier is to cycle the air in your home and remove particles. Well, this includes pet dander.
Even better, beyond pet dander, your air purifier will also stay busy removing other harmful particles such as:
- Volatile organic chemicals (VOCs)
Yes, you can live with dogs and cats and no, you don’t have to get expensive painful shots. By equipping your home with one or more air purifiers, you can eliminate the problem.
Now, there is a caveat…
An air purifier can only help with pet allergies if you select the right one. Let’s take a look at how you can ensure you buy the best air purifier for the job.
Which Air Purifier Works Best for Pet Allergies?
There are a lot of air purifiers on the market but not all of them come with the same bells and whistles. If you require an air purifier that will stop your pet allergies in their tracks, you need to buy one that has the following features:
HEPA filters are the gold standard in the industry. This is because HEPA filtration technology can remove 99.97% of particles .03 microns in diameter. This basically means an air purifier with a HEPA filter can remove almost every single particle in the air, including the ones that cause allergic rhinitis.
Make sure the air purifier you buy uses a HEPA filtration system or you may not be happy with your results.
Fit the Unit to the Size of the Room
Each air purifier has its own efficiency and maximum space that it can cover. You will want to make sure you match the size of your room to the right unit. For instance, a smaller unit that was built to cover 300 square feet of space will do a great job in a bedroom, but don’t expect it to handle a large living room or entire basement area. While a smaller unit will eventually filter out the particles in a larger space, it will take much longer and you will not experience the beneficial effects as much.
If you are unsure of the size of unit or how many you may need to cover your entire house, please get in touch with us, we’ll be happy to help you figure that out.
We recommend households with pets buy air purifiers with technology that uses antibacterial pre-filters. These are great at catching pet hair. While pet hair is not an allergen, it sure is annoying when it gets all over the house. Pre-filters will also eliminate harmful bacteria your dog or cat may drag into the house on their coat or paws.
Filter Replacement Indicator
Look for units that offer an indicator that will alert you to when it’s time to change the filter. We all have busy lives and it’s easy to forget your unit’s filter needs changing. Then one day you start to get the sniffles again and only THEN realize it’s been awhile since the filters were changed.
This isn’t a must-have, but it can be very helpful. Units with air ionizing capabilities disperse charged particles that attract airborne contaminants. Again, it’s not absolutely necessary, but it can help boost the filter efficiency.
While you’re at it, why not get a unit that comes with a carbon filter to remove those not-so-pleasant pet odors. If you’re going to breathe easier, you might as well breathe nicer smelling air as well. Some units come with odor-fighting HEPA filters.
With the right air purifier, you will begin to feel the effects within hours. And then you can share your life and your house with the best friends a human being could ever have.