Patient Education

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Controlling Pet Allergens

Overview

All warm-blooded pets, such as cats, dogs, birds, and rodents, have dead skin cells (pet dander) and make urine or droppings. These things can all trigger symptoms, such as wheezing or coughing, or another allergic reaction, such as the rash of atopic dermatitis or the stuffy nose of allergic rhinitis. Substances that trigger these reactions are called allergens.

  • Control pet dander
    • Groom pets often to reduce dander.
    • Keep your pet outside of the house or at least out of your bedroom.
    • Keep your pet in areas of the home that have hard floors that are easier to clean than carpeted floors.
    • Don't allow your pet on carpets or upholstered furniture.
    • Keep air registers closed if you have a pet. This will reduce the amount of pet dander moving through the house. If this isn't possible, close the register only in the room in which you want to reduce the dander.
  • Clean areas where you keep your pets
    • At least once a week, clean birdcages, rodent cages, or areas where pets sleep.
    • Dust and vacuum often. If you can, do this when the person who has an allergy is not at home. Use a static cloth for dusting, and use a vacuum with a high-efficiency particulate air (HEPA) filter, which helps keep dust off carpets and floors and out of the air.
    • Wash regularly any rugs, pillows, pet beds, or other items your pet has contact with.
  • Avoid pet urine.
    • If you're allergic to small rodents, such as mice or gerbils, have other family members clean the litter box. Or keep your pets outside your home in a garage or shed. People who are allergic to small rodents can sometimes be allergic to a substance in the animal's urine.
  • Consider finding your pet a new home if your allergy symptoms are severe.
    • Think about how important your pets are to you versus how bad your allergy symptoms are. You'll also have to think about how happy or well-behaved a pet will be if it is kept outdoors and away from you.
    • Even after you remove a pet, it may take many months before the change has a noticeable effect. You may also need to remove items that the pet slept on or was often around.

Credits

Current as of: September 20, 2021

Author: Healthwise Staff
Medical Review:
E. Gregory Thompson MD - Internal Medicine
Adam Husney MD - Family Medicine
Martin J. Gabica MD - Family Medicine
Kathleen Romito MD - Family Medicine
Rohit K Katial MD - Allergy and Immunology

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