• Reviewed on 6/12
    By Dr. Tinkelman

Animal Allergy: Reduce Animal Exposure


Once an animal allergy has been identified, the first step is to decrease or eliminate exposure to the allergen, which is called environmental control. Next, your healthcare provider may recommend medications or therapies to control symptoms. Evidence shows that allergy and asthma symptoms may improve over time if the recommended environmental control changes are made. Many environmental controls are for the entire home, but the bedroom is the most important because it is where people usually spend a third to half of their time. Environmental control measures to consider include:

  • Remove animals from your home. Unfortunately, there is no such thing as a "hypo-allergenic" cat or dog, and shorthaired breeds are no less of a problem than animals with long hair. Learn more about the myth of hypo-allergenic cats and dogs.

  • If you must have a pet, choose a pet without feathers or fur such as fish, reptiles, or amphibians. Whatever type of pet you have, keep it out of the allergic person's bedroom at all times.

  • If you have forced-air heating and a pet, change the furnace filter as frequently as monthly, and close the air ducts in the allergic person's bedroom. If necessary, use an electric heater instead.

  • In winter, make even more accommodations for pet dander in the home. Learn why dog and cat dander can make allergies worse in winter.

  • Have a non-allergic person wash the pet weekly.

  • Avoid visits to friends and relatives with feathered or furry pets.

  • Use a portable "HEPA" air cleaner to remove dander from the air in the bedroom. Be aware that the benefits may be limited because of the large reservoir of dander in furniture and carpet.

  • If you are sensitive to feathers, do not use down comforters and pillows since they are made with feathers. Substitute them with synthetic materials.


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