Skip to content

Allergies Health Center

Font Size

Controlling Pet Allergens - Topic Overview

All warm-blooded pets, such as cats, dogs, birds, and rodents, have dead skin cells (animal dander) and make urine or stool. These can all trigger asthma symptoms, such as wheezing or coughing, or another allergic reaction, such as the rash of atopic dermatitis or the stuffy nose of allergic rhinitis. Substances that trigger these reactions are called allergens.

Although there is no strong evidence that reducing animal dander in your home will reduce symptoms of asthma or allergy, the following steps may be helpful.

Recommended Related to Allergies

Living With Severe Allergies

Allergies affect more than 50 million people in the United States -- the poor souls who sniffle, sneeze, and get all clogged up when face to face with the allergen (or allergens) that set them off. For many, allergies are seasonal and mild, requiring nothing more than getting extra tissue or taking a decongestant occasionally. For others, the allergy is to a known food, and as long as they avoid the food, no problem. But for legions of others adults, allergies are so severe it interferes with their...

Read the Living With Severe Allergies article > >

  • Keep your pet outside of the house or at least out of your bedroom. Keep your pet in areas of the home that have hard floors that are easier to clean than carpeted floors.
  • At least once a week, clean birdcages, rodent cages, or areas where pets sleep.
  • Dust and vacuum often. If you can, do this when the person who has an allergy or asthma is not at home. Use a static cloth for dusting, and use a vacuum with a high-efficiency particulate air (HEPA) filter, which helps keep dust off carpets and floors and out of the air.
  • Keep air registers closed if you have a pet. This will reduce the amount of animal dander moving through the house. If this isn't possible, close the register only in the room in which you want to reduce the dander.
  • Do not allow your pet on carpets or upholstered furniture.
  • Wash regularly any rugs, pillows, pet beds, or other items the pet has contact with.

People who are allergic to small rodents, such as mice or gerbils, can sometimes be allergic to a substance in the animal's urine as well as its dander. If you are allergic, have other family members clean the litter box. Or keep your pets outside your home in a garage or shed.

Consider finding your pet a new home if your symptoms are severe. You will have to think about how important your pets are to you versus how bad your allergy symptoms are. You will also have to think about how happy or well-behaved a pet will be if it is kept outdoors and away from you.

Even after you remove a pet, it may take many months before the change has a noticeable effect. You may also need to remove items that the pet slept on or was often around.

Adults spend one-third of their time and children spend half of their time in their bedrooms, so it is important that you take steps to prevent allergens in this room.

    This information is produced and provided by the National Cancer Institute (NCI). The information in this topic may have changed since it was written. For the most current information, contact the National Cancer Institute via the Internet web site at http:// cancer .gov or call 1-800-4-CANCER.

    WebMD Medical Reference from Healthwise

    Last Updated: March 12, 2014
    This information is not intended to replace the advice of a doctor. Healthwise disclaims any liability for the decisions you make based on this information.
    1
    Next Article:

    Controlling Pet Allergens Topics

    Today on WebMD

    man blowing nose
    Make these tweaks to your diet, home, and lifestyle.
    Allergy capsule
    Breathe easier with these products.
     
    cat on couch
    Live in harmony with your cat or dog.
    Woman sneezing with tissue in meadow
    Which ones affect you?
     

    blowing nose
    Article
    woman with sore throat
    Article
     
    lone star tick
    Slideshow
    Woman blowing nose
    Slideshow
     

    Send yourself a link to download the app.

    Loading ...

    Please wait...

    This feature is temporarily unavailable. Please try again later.

    Thanks!

    Now check your email account on your mobile phone to download your new app.

    cat lying on shelf
    Article
    Allergy prick test
    VIDEO
     
    Man sneezing into tissue
    Assessment
    Woman holding feather duster up to face, twitching
    Quiz