3 simple steps to cut down on pet dander

Sign up for one of our email newsletters.Updated 11 hours ago Although we live in the United States of America, there is a subject upon which — let's be honest — we are far from united: We are either dog people or cat people. And although there is...

3 simple steps to cut down on pet dander

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Updated 11 hours ago

Although we live in the United States of America, there is a subject upon which — let's be honest — we are far from united: We are either dog people or cat people. And although there is rarely any measurable tension between the two sides, there is undeniable division.

So in the spirit of unity I offer this column as a common manifesto — a declaration against an enemy both sides equally despise. The enemy is pet dander and its politics are destructive.

Contrary to popular belief, pet dander is not part of a dog or cat's hair. Rather, it is extremely tiny flecks of skin shed by all the furred or feathered. Those nearly microscopic particles contain specific proteins which may have absolutely no effect on some humans. But those same proteins may, in fact, trigger an allergic reaction — sometimes severe.

Animals with longer or denser coats may carry other allergens more successfully and for that reason may be more allergenic. Likewise, longer hair may hold dander better. But rest assured, if you have a cat or a dog, regardless of the length of its hair, you have pet dander.

The steps to fighting dander are relatively easy and fairly inexpensive. I suggest a three-front attack:

• First — and I know this sounds simple — regular vacuuming is critical. And investing in a vacuum sweeper with a good pet dander rating is a great idea.

• Next, get rid of those low-quality furnace filters. Remember, forced air furnaces are massive recyclers — inhaling your home's cool air only to exhale a warmed version of that air back into your rooms. By upgrading to a pleated filter, your furnace exhale fewer pieces of dander every time it cycles.

• Last, but not least, purchase a comfortable pet bed for your canine or feline and place it outside of your bedroom. Pets love those beds. Heck, some of them are nicer than my bed. They will sleep in them, feel safe in them and be infinitely comfortable in them. The result will be a more contained area of dander in a washable or even disposable cushion, minimizing the amount on your furniture or carpets.

Folks we need not be divided. None of us, whether we are cat people or dog people, want anything to do with pet dander and the nasty allergic reactions it may cause.

Perhaps with pet dander as the common enemy the two sides of the pet loving world can, at last, come together. Only in America.

Ed Pfeifer is a freelance columnist for the Tribune Review and the owner of Pfeifer Hardware Inc., 300 Marshall Way, Mars. If you have questions about hardware, call the store at 724-625-9090.

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