Pet allergies can lead to serious health complications. Air purifiers can help you reduce the triggers of pet allergy.
We all love our pets, but if you or a friend or family member is allergic to dogs or cats, pet dander (tiny skin flakes that are shed by your furry friend) or saliva can trigger a serious attack of sneezing, red, itchy eyes and even rash.
Dander is the primary cause of pet-related allergic reactions, and all of our furry or feathered friends unfortunately “produce it”. Though most people are not allergic to pet hair, it can also exacerbate allergies by carrying pet dander and other allergens.
One way you might have considered to cut down on the effect of pet allergens is to get a home air purifier. But can air purifiers remove pet dander and hair from the air? And if so, what is the best type of air purifier for the job?
How does pet allergy work?
An allergic reaction is simply your immune system overreacting to something that would otherwise not harm you. All animals (including humans) produce several different substances that can trigger allergies, and the same goes for our home pets. Your immune system reacts to the protein molecules present in the substance.
Pets carry dander and can collect dust on their fur and coats. Dander is composed by skin flakes that your pet sheds in addition to their hair. If you happen to have a dander allergy, it means that you are allergic to the proteins secreted by oil glands under your pet’s skin. Shed skin, covered in these proteins, is a part of the dander shed by your pet.
You may sometimes notice these skin flakes floating through the air or accumulating in certain corners of your home. However, not all dander is visible to the human eye. Some dander particles are microscopic and can get trapped in carpets, bedding and furniture. With movement and air, these allergens can be released into the air and keep floating there for several days.
Pet hair itself very rarely causes an allergic reaction, but it surely traps and carries particles of dander, so pet hair can still be a problem if it collects on the floor, your furniture or gets into the air. Pet hair can collect other animal products as well, such as pet saliva or urine, which also contain allergy-producing proteins.
Some breeders tout certain dog and cat breeds as “hypoallergenic” because of their lack of fur or the fact that they shed very little. While it is true that non-shedding animals means less airborne pet hair, all cats and dogs will still shed some dander.
Still, dogs with curly fur may be more allergy-friendly than straight-haired dogs because their coat is better able to trap saliva and dander instead of releasing it into the air.
Dust bunnies can often be home to accumulated pet dander, hair and saliva, in addition to other common household allergens such as pollen and mold spores. Additionally, dust mites – which feed on pet dander – multiply and produce more allergy substances that can get into the air, causing further issues for allergy sufferers.
Pet Saliva and Urine
Pet saliva is another common animal-related allergen. When your pets licks themselves, the proteins in their saliva can stick to their fur, just like dander, and cause allergic reactions when you come into contact with it.
Pet urine also contains several allergy-causing proteins, meaning that a pet accident can turn into a potential source of allergens in your home. If you do not wash your pet regularly, the proteins in their urine can sometimes accumulate in their fur as well.
Cat Allergies vs. Dog Allergies
Up to 30% of the U.S. population has some type of pet allergy, according to recent studies, and of those people, cat allergies are twice as common as dog allergies. A possible explanation is because cats groom themselves more often than their canine counterparts, which equals more saliva on their fur. Also, cats and dogs produce different allergy-causing proteins, so it is possible to be allergic to one and not the other.
Both animals produce different proteins in their dander, saliva and urine. An allergist can help determine which of these allergens, if any, you are sensitive to.
The important thing to know about pet allergens is that they are carried on very small particles, and once floating in the air, they can stay there for hours. These particles get into your body primarily by being inhaled. Even though dander can be a microscopic, it is still large enough to get picked up by certain kinds of filters and removed from the air by an air purifier.
Do air purifiers help with pet dander?
Depending on the technology it uses, an air purifier with a filter to remove particles can have a significant impact on the amount of pet allergens in the air, particularly in close spaces. These tiny particles can suspend in the air for long periods of time, even if your pet is not present in the home. Removing as much of them as possible can definitely help with allergy symptoms.
Air purifiers with HEPA filters are theoretically capable to remove 99.97% of particles that are 0.3 micrometers in size. So a HEPA-equipped air purifier may help reduce some of the larger-sized particles like airborne dust, pet dander and dust mites in your home. If you have pet hair in the air, a HEPA filter can take care of these large particles.
However, when it comes to the very tiny particles of pet allergens that break off of larger particles, a HEPA filter is not quite as efficient. Smaller molecules have a much higher chance of passing through a HEPA filter mesh, getting released back into the air. If you inhale any of those molecules, you may have an allergic reaction.
Basically, A HEPA filter can help capture strands of pet fur or skin flakes, but it would need to be changed regularly and safely to maintain its effectiveness. Pet owners may need to replace filters more often than average because of the large amount of pet dander and pet hair in their home, which can rapidly clog the air filter.
Ionizing air purifiers attempt to attach an electric charge to pet allergen particles that fly by them, and these charged particles then stick to nearby surfaces like walls or furniture. Because ionizers usually do not contain a fan, not much air can flow through, which can leave a lot of the spaces where pet dander sits unaddressed.
Also, because the charged particles of pet dander or allergens can deposit on floors or other surfaces, they can easily be disturbed by someone walking or a vacuum cleaner. Plus, ionizing air purifiers could produce ozone, which is itself a harmful pollutant.
Carbon air filters
A carbon filter is only designed to remove specific types of gases in the air. They cannot filter particles, which would make it completely ineffective for small and large particles of pet dander and especially pet hair. However, you may choose a carbon filter to help with pet odors.
Microscopic particles of allergens, which are proteins carried on small particles of pet dander or pet hair, can break off and pass through traditional filters. Because they are so small, they can remain suspended in the air and are normally not addressed by traditional filters. Koru air purifiers, which are based on an advanced technology called Photo Chemical Oxidation (PCO), are different.
In the first filtration stage of Koru, the Pre-Filter composed by a living plant stops large particles of pet hair or pet dander from passing through while removing chemical particles through a process called phytoremediation. In the second stage, the smallest allergy-producing proteins, which are carried on pet dander or hair, are captured by the ceramic filter and destroyed by the PCO technology.
What air purifiers reduce pet dander best?
While people may never agree on cats versus dogs, and although both cats and dogs produce different types of dander with different proteins that affect people in different ways, most filtration-based air purifiers can help reduce dander in the air, no matter what kind of dander it is or what animal it came from. Therefore, a particle filtration technology like HEPA is an acceptable option.
Having said that, the ideal air purifier for reducing pet dander and cutting down on allergic reactions to pets is one that is capable of destroying the allergy-producing proteins carried by pet hair or contained in pet dander and saliva. You should look for an air purifier that combines a filtration element that captures larger particles such as pet dander, and additional technology to address smaller pollutants that cannot be filtered. The Koru air purifier, which uses technology that can destroy smaller pet allergens, will do a better job of capturing pet dander and eliminating all other pet-related pollutants in the air of your home.
Other ways to reduce pet dander
Pet dander is released from your pet’s skin all the time. It gets more intense when your pet is active. Brushing your pet’s fur releases a lot of dander, so it should always be done outside. This can actually help reduce pet dander in the house temporarily, since brushing gets rid of so much of it outside instead of letting the dander get shaken off inside the house.
There is some evidence that regular bathing (once a week) reduces the amount of dander a pet gives off, especially dogs. There are special shampoos intended to reduce dander, so use those whenever possible. Keeping your pet healthy by feeding a veterinarian-recommended diet and providing plenty of water can help, since healthy skin and fur gives off less dander than dried out, flaky skin.
Limit Area of Activity
One of the biggest problems with pet dander is that it gets trapped in carpets, bedding, sofas, and clothes. If just one person in your household has a pet allergy, restrict the pet so that it cannot get to that person’s bedroom. This will cut down on the amount of dander the allergic person is exposed to while sleeping, which may help with nighttime allergies. It can help to keep pets off of the furniture too.
Another important way to reduce the amount of pet dander in your house is, obviously, frequent cleaning. Dust with a wet rag and vacuum carpets, rugs, and furniture with a powerful vacuum cleaner. Doing this frequently will cut down on pet dander almost as much as an air purifier will.
A conclusive note
Traditional air filters like HEPA filters will trap dander particles, but they cannot permanently remove them.
Luckily, the latest advancements in air purification technology allowed us to develop KORU Air focusing on maintaining an extremely high air purification effectiveness, while limiting our impact on the planet and on customer’s pockets with a permanent and washable filter perfect to capture even up to 96% of pet dander.