Did you know that more than 50 million Americans suffer from some type of allergy each year? Did you know that there is a link between improperly filtered air in your home and poorer health outcomes?

This includes allergies related to pet dander. Do you experience allergies and wonder if your pet is to blame?

Like most people, getting rid of the pet you consider a “member of the family” is not an option. Fortunately, you have options for cleaning the air in your home. You can be free from allergens and keep your furry companion.

What Is Pet Dander?

Pet dander is made up of tiny particles of skin shed by animals with fur or feathers. Pets that might have dander include cats, dogs, birds, and rodents. These flakes of skin float into the air and can remain suspended there for a long time.

Dander can cause allergies for people who breathe them in. This can include triggering asthma, bronchitis, or other respiratory problems. These particles also can cause rashes or irritations on the skin. More often than not, it is pet dander–not hair–that causes allergic reactions in people.

Why this happens is specific to the person and to the pet. It is a common misconception that certain breeds of dogs cause allergies and others do not. But people with allergies can have different reactions to dogs of the same breed.

Another false belief is that the length of the pet’s hair has something to do with allergies. Since dander is from the skin, the length of the animal’s hair only has to do with how easily it disperses into the air.

HVAC Filters Can Eliminate Pet Allergens

There are a few simple things you can do to further reduce the amount of pet dander in the air. These include keeping your carpets cleaned and making sure your pet is well-groomed and regularly bathed. However, these steps will only reduce the amount of dander in the air.

Your heating, ventilation, and air conditioning system (HVAC) may be both the cause, and the solution, to allergies from pet dander. Even if you keep your pets isolated to a single room or area of the house, the HVAC system is dispersing pet dander throughout your home.

The good news is that a proper HVAC filter can filter any particles in the air, including pet dander and even bacteria. But the key is to have the right filter installed.

Not all filters are created equal. The main thing to look at when comparing air filters is the “minimum efficiency reporting value,” or MERV rating. This measures how effectively the filter traps dust and other small particles. In general, the higher the MERV rating the smaller the particles it can trap and keep out of the air stream.

  • MERV 1-4 will remove large particles, like carpet fibers, and most pollen and dust
  • MERV 5-8 filters will capture spores from mold
  • MERV 9-12 will filter most fumes and certain bacteria
  • MERV 13-16 will remove all of the above, as well as tobacco smoke and almost all types of bacteria

Even the lowest-rated MERV filter can be a move in the right direction. But to reduce pet dander you will want to look for a filter with a rating of at least 11.

If you want to cut out pet odors as well, look for a filter with a carbon layer. Most filters that have this feature advertise it on the packaging, so they are easy to identify.

Keep in mind that you should not install a filter that has a higher MERV rating than your system can handle. There are filters available that are designed to clean the air stream into surgical operating rooms. This is not necessary for your home. Too hearty a filter could slow down and even cause damage to your system.

There are a few companies, such as Filtrete, that produce filters specifically designed to catch allergens and reduce odors. You may pay a higher price than your typical one, but these high-end filters often last longer and need to be changed less often.

One big advantage of a more robust air filter is that it is a cheaper alternative to expensive air purifying machines. And it will do a better job of purifying the air in your entire home.

Other Considerations

It is a good idea to change your air filter about once a month, regardless of whether you have pets. It will reduce strain on your system and help it run more efficiently.

Another thing you should consider is having your system cleaned. HVAC ductwork can accumulate dust and debris that can slow your system down. This includes allergens and mold. These particles are gradually be re-released into the air stream of your home.

Having ductwork cleaned is a good idea for new homes. If you suspect damage from rodents or other causes, that is another reason to have them looked at. This will ensure that your system is sending clean, filtered air into your home.

Once you have the ducts cleaned, you will almost immediately notice a cleaner smell in the air of your home. You also can expect a reduction in your next utility bill.

No Need To Wait

Upgrading your air filter will help create a healthier indoor air quality for your home. If you are unsure of what type filter would be best for your system, contact a professional. An experienced technician can identify any problems and help you decide what alterations are right for your home.

Most reputable professionals will provide a free quote for any work to be done on your home, including ductwork cleaning. They will be able to tell you what measures to take to make your air cleaner and to help you breathe easier.

For more information on how to make and keep your home free of pet dander, contact us or visit our site.