Controlling Allergens: Pets

Constant exposure to allergens means constant allergy symptoms. That’s why controlling or avoiding the allergens that cause your symptoms is an important part of your treatment. If you are allergic to pets, the tips below may help lessen your exposure.

Woman brushing dog outdoors.

Pet allergies

Many people think that pet allergy is caused by the fur of cats and dogs. But researchers have found that the major allergens are proteins made by oil glands in the animals’ skin. These proteins are shed in flakes of skin called dander. Allergy-causing proteins in saliva stick to the fur when the animal cleans itself. And urine contains allergy-causing proteins. Cats tend to be more likely than dogs to cause allergic reactions—this may be because they lick themselves more, may be held more, and may spend more time indoors. Guinea pigs, mice, and rats can also cause allergies.

Controlling animal allergens

The best way to avoid animal allergens is to not have a pet. If you already have a pet and want to keep it, try to reduce your exposure as much as possible. These tips may help:

  • Whenever possible, keep pets outdoors.  This doesn't keep pet dander from getting into your home on clothing or shoes.

  • Never let pets into your bedroom or on your bed.

  • Try to keep pets off sofas, chairs, rugs, and carpeting. Also, consider removing carpets.

  • Use an air-cleaning unit with a HEPA filter—especially in the bedroom.

  • Use filter bags or vacuums designed to lessen allergens.

  • Wash your hands after you touch a pet, and try to keep pets away from your face.

  • Brush and bathe your pet often. Bathing pets helps lessen dander. Bathing also washes other allergens like dust, mold, and pollen off the animal’s fur.