Knowing how to avoid pet dander is important if animal dander is one of your asthma triggers. Pet dander is an airborne trigger that is often found in indoor environments year round. It is commonly believed that an animal’s hair is what causes pet allergies, but this is not true. In fact, it is the proteins found in dander, urine, and saliva from pets that is at work. Dander is the dead skin flakes that are shed from an animal.
In cats and dogs, dander and saliva are primarily allergic triggers, while urine can be the allergen in other animals, such as rabbits, guinea pigs and hamsters.
Cats are one of the most potent asthma triggers, but a sensitive person can have a reaction to almost any furry or feathered animal. Whether the animal is long- or short-haired does not matter.
Importance of Avoiding Pet Dander
According to the Expert Panel Guidelines for managing asthma, the first and foremost step in controlling allergic asthma is to reduce exposure to the allergens to which you are sensitive. So, if animal dander is one of your asthma or allergy triggers, then you should focus on avoiding pet dander as much as you possibly can.
Having said that, though, it’s also important to state that total avoidance of all environmental allergens is not practical or realistic. Many families are not willing to give up their family pets because one of its human members is allergic. And even if you don’t live with an animal, chances are good that you will be exposed to some pet dander now and then, which may trigger your asthma symptoms.
Still, you can take some steps take that will decrease your exposure, and you should take them if you want to stay as healthy as possible.
Tips on How to Avoid Pet Dander
Of course, the best course of action if you are allergic to pet dander is not to have pets, but since that is not an acceptable option for many people, then at least work on the following actions:
- Maintain a “no pet zone” in the bedroom. Your trigger avoidance efforts will go a long way if you can keep animals out of sleeping areas. If you can keep them out of the main living areas too, even better.
- Keep pets clean and groomed. Weekly brushing and washing of pets (by a non-allergic person) is believed to keep animal dander levels down in the home.
- Provide a litter box for cats to make waste in. Make sure the litter box is not kept in sleeping or living areas, if possible, and have a non-allergic person change the litter frequently. Same goes for cleaning the cages of pet birds and hamsters.
- If you are allergic to feathers, don’t use feather pillows or down bedding. Even though the feathers are not coming from a live animal within your home, they can still trigger symptoms.
- If you buy a new pet, make it a reptile or amphibian. Animals with scales or hairless skin like snakes and lizards do not usually trigger asthma symptoms.
As mentioned above, total avoidance of pet dander may not be possible. So, you should also be sure to take all of your asthma controller medicine as prescribed. And keep your quick-relief inhaler close by too, just in case.
Living a life without limits may mean making some compromises in some areas, so that you can keep breathing well and staying active. But, any steps you can take will be well worth it in the long run.