Pets 101

Allergists Sniff Out the Truth about Managing Pet Allergies


If someone in your home has pet allergies, you may wash the dog twice a week, steam clean your carpet or treat your pet with sprays or drops to reduce shedding, but is there any evidence that these measures help?

The American College of Allergy, Asthma & Immunology (ACAAI) and its allergist members, doctors who are experts at diagnosing and treating allergies and asthma, offer the following research-based environmental changes that can reduce the allergen levels in your home and may help stop symptoms.

  1. Replace carpeting with hard surfaces. Did you know carpeted floors accumulate 100 times more cat allergens than hard floors? Switch to polished surfaces like hardwood floors, polished stone or tile.
  2. Limit or remove fabric upholstered furniture. Research shows that upholstered furniture and curtains contain significant amounts of cat dander and even more than what is found on the floor.
  3. Wash bedding and curtains. To remove dog dander from bedding and curtains, use one of these three techniques: wash in water at least 140°F with one rinse; wash at any temperature with two rinses; or wash in a steam washing machine.
  4. Use tightly woven coverings on all bedding. Protective coverings for mattresses, box springs and pillows are often recommended, and studies show that tightly woven fabric with openings less than 4 microns wide can reduce allergens.
  5. Make multiple changes for best results. Studies show that making multiple indoor environment changes is required to significantly reduce pet allergens.

There’s little evidence that these control tips work when it comes to pet allergies:

  • Choosing a “non-allergic” or hypo-allergenic pet – they do not exist
  • Bathing pets with water and special shampoo
  • Steam cleaning carpet and upholstery
  • Giving pet oral agents or topical sprays to reduce shedding
  • Using a HEPA vacuum

Pet owners with allergies should see an allergist, who will discuss treatment options, including whether allergy shots (immunotherapy) can bring pet allergy symptom relief.

To learn more about allergies and asthma and take a free relief self-test, visit www.AllergyandAsthmaRelief.org.

Written By: Sarah Dietze on behalf of the American College of Allergy, Asthma & Immunology

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