One of the most frustrating problems if you’re a dog lover is coping with a pet dander allergy.
Getting a rash or breaking out in a sneezing fit whenever your pet is nearby can make caring for even the most beloved dog a chore!
But what causes you to experience a pet dander allergy to your dog? And how can you reduce the symptoms?
What is pet dander?
Your immune system has one primary goal: to protect the body from foreign invaders such as bacteria and viruses. Most of the time it does a great job – at least in people who don’t have an auto-immune disease.
The problems start when an immune system becomes overactive. In the case of a pet dander allergy, the immune system thinks proteins found in an animal’s skin cells are dangerous. This causes an allergy response even though the dander doesn’t pose a genuine risk.
Unfortunately, if you have a dog then pet dander can spread around your home. Skin cells stick to furniture, mattresses and walls – and don’t lose their ability to cause a reaction. This is why you may suffer from a reaction even when your dog isn’t in the room.
4 tips to relieve a pet dander allergy
The good news is there are plenty of steps you can take to reduce a pet allergy – without getting rid of your dog!
Here are four of my favorite strategies.
1. Vacuum using a HEPA filter
One of the best ways to get rid of pet dander is daily vacuuming – but not all vacuums are suitable. Vacuums without an anti-allergen filter may release dander into the air, which can make symptoms worse.
That’s why the best pet vacuums come with a HEPA filter, which is the most effective filter for removing small particles. As Spotless Vacuum notes, if you don’t want to buy a new vacuum, you can often buy replacement HEPA filters for your existing model.
When vacuuming, make sure you clean all surfaces. This includes carpets, hard floors, furniture, upholstery and window ledges.
2. Wash your hands regularly
Washing your hands whenever you’ve touched your pet gets rid of dander so you can’t accidentally transfer it to your face.
This might sound like an obvious tip, but it’s one of the most effective ways to reduce pet allergies. Washing your face several times throughout the day can also help.
On the other hand, bathing your dog usually doesn’t make a big difference to allergies.
While bathing gets rid of dead skin, the effect only lasts for a few days. Dogs shouldn’t be bathed too often because it dries out their skin.
3. Make the bedroom a no-go zone
You spend at least 7-8 hours each day in your bedroom, so it’s the most important place where you should work to minimize dander.
That means you need to make sure your dog stays out of your bedroom at all times. This might be tough if you love snuggling or sleeping with your pet, but it can make a big difference to your allergies.
Even if your dog doesn’t come into the bedroom, dander can still hitch a ride on clothes or in the air.
To reduce symptoms at night, make sure you regularly wash bedding on a high temperature. You may also want to consider a HEPA air filter to actively get rid of dander.
4. Get someone else to groom your dog
Grooming a dog is vital for maintaining a healthy coat, but it also stirs up allergens into the air. If you have an allergy, ask someone else to brush your dog outside.
It’s also a good idea to get someone who doesn’t have an allergy to empty your vacuum – especially if it’s a bagless model. Pet dander and other allergens often escape during the emptying process.
Summary: A pet dander allergy can be frustrating, but it shouldn’t mean you have to give up your dog. Use these tips to naturally reduce allergy symptoms without spending a lot of money. It’s also a good idea to talk to your doctor, as there are over-the-counter and prescription medications also can reduce reactions to a pet dander allergy.