Our furry four-legged friends bring us a lot of joy. Like a bad dating website advertisement, there are lots of long walks, snuggling during your favourite TV show, and laughter. But pets could also be having a negative impact on your indoor air quality, leading to allergies and other health symptoms and diseases, like asthma.
The American Veterinary Medical Foundation found that 67% of American homes had either a cat or a dog. While the benefits of having a pet are many (a decrease in blood pressure, depression, and your risk of heart attack being three), your pet could inadvertently be bringing home unwanted indoor air quality pollutants, and it’s important to be aware of what they are, so that any indoor air quality issues can be dealt with promptly.
Some folks think that having a short-haired cat or dog might be the best way to reduce pet hair that may be in our indoor air quality. Long or short haired, it may not actually be the case that hair is the problem. Many people who suffer from poor indoor air quality caused by their pets are actually allergic to pet dander. Like our dandruff, dander is small flecks of skin that come off from your pet’s skin. Tiny enough to move through your indoor air quality, these flecks may also contain saliva or other potential allergens that are spread into your indoor air quality when your pet licks itself. Because it’s so light-weight and small, pet dander can stick around in your indoor air quality a lot longer than other dust or allergens, and may linger on furniture, bedding and other home surfaces.
Depending on your preferences, it may or may not surprise you that more Americans are allergic to cats than to dogs. This may be because cats tend to be indoors, and are shedding more dander into your indoor air quality than dogs, who spend comparatively more time outdoors. And indoor cats use indoor bathrooms – particles from the litter box may also be affecting your indoor air quality and contaminate your air.
To combat your pets contributing to poor indoor air quality, there are a number of things you can do. Making sure your animals are regularly bathed and brushed to reduce the amount of dander released into your indoor air quality is the perhaps the simplest method. Keeping your four-leggers off the furniture, beds, and carpets can also keep these areas clear of dander and extra hair that could be affecting your indoor air quality. Regular maintenance of pet beds and litter boxes can also keep the concentration of allergens in their place, and then finally, using the vaccuum frequently does a world of good for pet dander, hair, and other allergens that could be affecting your indoor air quality.
If you don’t have a cat or dog, other pets, like birds, rodents (hamsters, guinea pigs), and even lizards and turtles can also have an effect on your indoor air quality as well. As with any pet, responsible ownership comes with a laundry list of tasks, but the unconditional love you receive in return is 100% worth it.