The Healthy asked experts to pick the best air purifiers for pet owners. Here’s how you can rid the air in your home of pet dander (plus allergens like dust, pollen, and mold) and what to look for before you buy.
What is pet dander?
We love our furry friends. They lick us, snuggle with us, and give us reason to smile even on hard days. One thing they don’t do, however, is help keep our homes clean. Even the most polished pooch leaves hair, pet dander, and outdoor allergens circulating throughout our home, all of which can lead to allergies and asthma symptoms.
(Beware of these common indoor allergens.)
Pet dander isn’t something that you can see. In fact, it’s microscopic and it comes from skin that sheds from a myriad of animals that we’ve come to love, including dogs, cats, birds, rabbits, and pretty much any other animal that has feathers or fur. “Both cat and dog allergens can remain airborne for extended periods of time and, because of their small size, settle slowly,” says Robyn Kreiner, MD, an allergist and member of the Allied Physicians Group.
The allergens on our dear pets can wreak havoc for those of us who are prone to pet allergies—an estimated 30 percent of the U.S. population, according to the Asthma and Allergy Foundation of America (AAFA). Though typically harmless, allergens trigger an immune response in people with allergies, causing symptoms like itchy eyes, sniffling, and sneezing. Allergies are more common in people who have asthma.
Unfortunately, there are few tried-and-true solutions for getting rid of these allergens, aside from removing the animal from the home. This isn’t always realistic, given that pets are members of the family. The next-best solution is to use air purifiers for pets, which work to filter out allergens, including pet dander.
(These are the best air-cleaning plants to detoxify your home, according to NASA.)
What is an air purifier?
An air purifier is a device that works to remove allergens and contaminants from an area of your home—the size of the area dependent on its size and capabilities—to improve air quality.
“These air filtration systems trap airborne allergen in the room and reduce allergen load in the environment, thereby reducing the amount of allergens airborne in the room as well as the level of pet allergen exposures,” explains Kanao Otsu, MD, allergist and immunologist at National Jewish Health. “These should be used with other mitigation practices, such as removing the animal from the house or, at minimum, keeping the animal out of the patient’s bedroom.”
(Here’s how to tell who needs an air purifier.)
What to look for in air purifiers for pets
There are various different categories of air purification systems.
“If your home has a central heating, ventilation, and air conditioning [HVAC] system, this system can be turned into a whole-house filtration system through the installation of disposable air filters with a high MERV [minimum efficiency reporting value] rating,” explains allergist Payal Gupta, MD, associate clinical professor at SUNY Downstate Medical Center and Mount Sinai Medical Center in New York and a national spokesperson for the American Lung Association.
“There are also individual room air purifiers that are another option for air purification in homes without forced-air HVAC systems,” he says. While a single device will not filter a whole home, Dr. Gupta notes that multiple personal air purifiers can be used throughout various rooms in the home.
An air purifier for a home with pets should have the following features:
A high-efficiency particulate air filter—often called a HEPA filter—is the most effective at removing airborne particles and allergens from indoor air, according to Dr. Kreiner. “This type of mechanical air filter works by forcing air through a fine mesh that traps harmful particles such as pollen, pet dander, dust mites, and tobacco smoke,” she says.
Most air purifiers that contain a HEPA filter are able to remove 99.97 percent of pollen, dust, mold, bacteria, and airborne particles that are as small as 0.3 micrometers, according to the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA).
CADR suitable for room size
“Filters are marked with a CADR [clean air delivery rate], which describes the cubic feet per minute of airflow through the device, so be sure to match the filter’s CADR with the size of the room where you plan to use the filter,” says Dr. Gupta. “While these filters also need to be replaced, they are generally easier to replace than HVAC filters, and their replacement helps ensure maximum effectiveness.”
It’s important to check the certification on any air purifier that you purchase to ensure that it is doing the job that it promises and is backed by industry standards. A popular certification is Energy Star, which ensures a product meets strict energy-performance standards set out by the EPA. Another certification to look for is the Association of Home Appliance Manufacturers (AHAM), which advises on the most suitable size of room for that purifier. Products with a Certified Asthma & Allergy Friendly seal have met standards set by the AAFA.
Head over to The Healthy to view the best air purifiers for pets
Dr. Carol Osborne is an author and world-renowned integrative veterinarian of twenty-plus years. After graduating from the Ohio State College of Veterinary Medicine, Dr. Carol completed a prestigious internship at the Columbus Zoo. Shortly afterward, she launched a very successful private practice and became the founder and director of the non-profit organization, the American Pet Institute. Dr. Carol offers traditional veterinary care for dogs and cats with a softer, natural touch. Her approach highlights the importance of nutrition and utilizing holistic avenues in combination with traditional treatments. Currently, she offers holistic therapies and traditional veterinary medical care for dogs and cats at the Chagrin Falls Pet Clinic in Chagrin Falls, Ohio. Call our Office Today at (866) 372-2765 or complete this Form to Email our Office.