Maintaining High Indoor Air Quality with Indoor Pets
Over the years we have seen many homeowners have allergies because their cat or dog stays inside. We understand that pets are part of the family, so here are some ways to improve the air quality in your home without kicking your pets outside!
One obvious place that we see a buildup of dander and hair is in the air duct system and on the heating and air coils. When your air passes over the dog and cat hair again and again it will pick up odors and
other dander that are allergens for many people. If you have pets you may need to clean your ductwork
more often than other people.
Most people can clean their air ducks every five years with good results; however, if you have pets and
allergies you may need to clean the ductwork as soon as every 2 to 3 years. Also, you may want to
consider having a deep pleated filter on your furnace such as a Space-Guard or an Air Bear. These
filters are 5 inches deep and typically 20” in height x 25″ in width. These filters can keep the dog and cat
hair off of your coils. When you remove and replace the filter, you will be removing a significant amount of
dog and cat hair that would have ended up on your coils.
These types of filters will also remove a large amount of the particulates and larger hair out of the air.
However, dander can be very small you may need a HEPA filter to remove enough dander from the air to
make a difference for your allergies. The most affordable HEPA filter on the market can be purchased at
Home Depot it is made by Honeywell; it has an average cost of $180.
These actions help keep dander out of the air; however, these actions alone do not help with dander
that has settled on your couch, your pillows, and other household surfaces. The only way to remove this
dander is by using a HEPA filtered vacuum and vacuuming all surfaces. This service can be performed
by higher end environmental companies. They typically handle mold remediation. Vacuuming all surfaces
would only be necessary for people with severe allergies to pet dander, but they can make a large
Homeowners can purchase their own HEPA vacuum and do this themselves. However, true HEPA
vacuums cost about a thousand dollars and are typically only available from an environmental supply
company. A reputable company to purchase a quality HEPA vacuum for this type of service would be at
Other than vacuuming, there are also some basic pet maintenance and cleaning tips that can help
minimize allergen exposure. For example, cleaning crates and bedding weekly in hot, soapy washer;
keeping food up; keeping floors cleaned of hair and dirt; having pets professionally groomed at least
every 6-8 weeks (depending on breed), and replacing air filters with a high quality allergen reducing filter
every month even if rated for 3 months.
Allergy testing can be beneficial so you know exactly what allergens you are allergic to. Some people are
allergic to cats and not dogs, some people are allergic to birds but not cats or dogs, or they are allergic
to cats or dogs not birds, or any combination. Some types of pets produce fewer allergens. For example,
there are cats that have that less dander than other cats, such as a Devon Rex Breed of cat.
Taking the time to research your specific allergy and which pets will produce the fewest amount of
allergens can dramatically make a difference. Having a pet and a pet allergy makes a significant amount
of work for a homeowner if they are to occupy the same living space.
Some homeowners, as their allergies have worsened, have had to create exterior living spaces for
their pets, modifying a porch or a sunroom to separate themselves from the allergy. This is an extreme
situation, but sometimes it may be the only way to keep the pet. It may be worth investing in someone
coming to the home to investigate your air ducts, your vacuum system, your building construction, and
trying to minimize the amount of allergens in your home.