Pet owners might not know it but animal fur is not the main cause of your allergies, it is the tiny flakes of dead skin we call pet dander. We love our pets but for so many people the unfortunate side effect of keeping them inside, letting them lay in our bed and scoot around on the carpet comes from the discomfort of allergies. You can mange your allergies and pet dander in many different ways. Filters Fast is an air and water filtration company so we know these issues come up a lot. Which is why we want to look at the issue of pet allergies and provide some suggestions that might help in managing any discomfort.
The reason for why we have allergies is an ongoing debate. Studies like the one over at Discovery Magazine point to the body’s response of releasing antibodies to attack foreign substances as being an evolutionary advantage against venomous reptiles and flying insects like bees or wasps, cancers and other diseases. If true, then it suggests that while our immune system has made our bodies more resilient against many unique forces, at the same time it has caused us to be hyper-sensitive to particles like dust, pollen, and dander from our pets.
When it comes to allergic reactions we expect the normal symptoms of an itchy throat, congestion, and water eyes, but for some people being anywhere near pet dander can cause aggressive asthma symptoms. So bad in fact that you might have to avoid some people’s homes entirely, carry an inhaler, or regularly visit your doctor for allergy shots.
Still, with the unconditional love our pets give us it is super easy to make accommodation by managing our allergies through cleaning more often and taking the appropriate medication. We’ll leave the doctoring to doctors and instead focus on reducing the amount of pet dander, dust, pollen and other allergy causing particle around your home.
You have a few options when it comes to home filtration. The first one we want you to get in the habit of thinking about is your air conditioning system. If you didn’t know there is a filter in there. If you haven’t checked your air filter in the past 3 months we urge you to use our guide to sizing air filters and pick up a replacement from filtersfast.com immediately!
The reason isn’t because we just want to sell more products, it is for your general health and the amount of money you will save on heating and cooling bills. Our filters are made up of a tightly packed synthetic fibers that, you guessed it, capture particles like pet dander, mites, mold, and more ranging from 0.3 microns (a very small size) to 100 microns (thickness of human hair).
Every filter has what is called dirt holding capacity. This is the amount of airborne contaminants the filter media can trap before air flow becomes restricted. When this happens you run your air conditioning systems for longer just to change the room temperature a few degrees. So your bills goes up and your expensive air conditioning system wears out faster.
If we look at a chart comparing MERV 8, MERV 11, and MERV 13 filters, we see that the higher the MERV rating the more particles are captured because the filter media has fewer air gaps. For residential applications we do not recommend going below a MERV 8 or higher than 13.
On our chart we see pet dander falls between a MERV 8 and 11. You will notice that MERV 8 filters tend to start cheaper than higher ratings but they will allow some smaller particle to evade capture. If your allergies are less severe or you are already taking a doctor recommended medication then a MERV 8 filter might meet your needs. Keeping in mind that friends and family might thank you for choosing a MERV 11 filter so they can breathe a little easier.
We mentioned a few paragraphs up that you should check your filter at least every 3 months. If you have a lot of pets in your home and find clumps of animal hair in every nook and cranny despite regular cleanings you might want to get in the habit of checking air filters every month because it is very likely your filters are clogged.
If you don’t have central air or don’t often run your air conditioner or you want the best quality air possible you can always go the route of buying an air purifier.
When shopping air purifiers look around for a model that is uses a HEPA filter. HEPA stands for High Efficiency Particulate Air and refers to the fact that the filter is manufactured, tested, and certified in accordance with current standards. HEPA filters then must capture 99.97% of 0.3 micron particles in the air. See the similarity to MERV 13? For pet dander alone a HEPA filter might be overdoing it, but because you don’t use your air conditioning system regularly or your have allergy problems, the higher filtration capacity makes the purchase worthwhile.
Keep in mind that air purifiers come in a wide range of capacities. Some are designed to work in a small bedroom or office, others for more open spaces like living rooms that connect to hallways and kitchens. You should decide how much you are willing to spend and how allergies affect you throughout the day. If allergies are really only a problem at night, think about buying a smaller purifier to keep in your bedroom. It is a safe bet to say that the bigger the purifier the more you will pay but that also means it is designed to move and scrub more air of allergy causing contaminants.