5 natural ways to combat pet allergens in your home
By Laura Drucker
If you’re a pet lover who suffers from allergies, you know that they’re nothing to sneeze at. An estimated 10 percent of Americans are allergic to animals, with cat allergies about twice as common as dog allergies, according to the American College of Allergy, Asthma & Immunology.
The good news is that being allergic to animals doesn’t mean you can’t share your home with them. And living harmoniously with your pet doesn’t have to include a daily regimen of popping pills. A variety of natural and holistic treatment options are available, letting allergy sufferers live comfortable with their furry companions.
Animals produce several types of proteins that can cause allergic reactions, the most common being dander. Depending on breed and coat type, some animals produce more dander than others. By keeping your pet on a consistent grooming schedule (aim for every three to four weeks), you can drastically cut down on the amount of shedding that occurs and, subsequently, the amount of dander that is released into the air around you. Be careful though: If you don’t want to pay to have a professional groomer do the dirty work, be sure to wear a mask.
Keep it clean
The Asthma and Allergy Foundation of America recommends a few tips for dealing with pet allergens in your home:
1. Steam clean carpets frequently. Where possible, use throw rugs instead of wall-to-wall carpeting, since they can be thrown in the wash.
2. Vacuuming can stir up allergens that have settled on the ground, so wear a dust mask when you vacuum and use a vacuum with a HEPA filter that traps allergens.
3. Forced-air heating and air-conditioning units spread allergens around your home, so cover air vents with a dense filtering material such as cheesecloth and change filters often.
One of the most effective tools for fighting airborne allergens is a HEPA air purifier. A good model will cost you at least a few hundred dollars, but it is definitely worth it. HEPA air filters are designed to remove extremely fine allergens from the air and are recommended for allergy sufferers. Portable room air cleaners can be used to clean the air in a single room or specific areas, but are not whole-house cleaners. Run your air filter at least four hours per day and change the filter as often as the manufacturer recommends to ensure you’re getting the best results.
NASA’s study of plants and indoor air showed that some plants are capable of reducing allergens by absorbing the allergens and releasing clean oxygen. If you want to exercise your green thumb in the pursuit of allergy relief, get an Areca Palm, Lady Palm, or Bamboo Palm––these three allergy-friendly plants can greatly reduce the amount of allergens circulating throughout your home.
Though it has yet to be officially proven as an effective method for treating allergies, some allergy sufferers are turning to NAET—Nambudripad’s Allergy Elimination Techniques––as an alternative to shots and medication. NAET uses a combination of techniques from kinesiology, acupuncture, acupressure, chiropractic, and nutrition to address and hopefully cure allergies. The jury is still out on just how effective NAET is, but it could be beneficial to those who want to stay away from more traditional—and invasive—allergy treatments.
Being a pet lover with animal allergies doesn’t mean you have to suffer. Implement these natural treatments into your home and lifestyle and enjoy Fido or Fluffy without constantly reaching for the box of tissues.