You love your pet but that doesn’t mean your respiratory system does!
More than 50 million Americans have allergies, with many of them suffering all year long. A lot of money is spent to alleviate allergy symptoms with air purifiers and humidifiers but how do you know which one will work for you?
Finding the best air purifier for pet allergies and asthma can be confusing but we’re going to walk you through what you need to look for when purchasing one.
This article does a great job laying out a ton of information about allergies, asthma and pets. However, it is pretty long. If you would rather skip ahead to the product reviews, click this link here. Otherwise, read on to learn more about how to manage the allergens in your home.
Air Purifier and Humidifiers
When you’ve been diagnosed with allergies, the first thing you want to do is stop your runny nose and itchy eyes. You may look at your pet and think, “What can I do to stop your dander from wreaking havoc on my body?”
Since no one is going to give their dog or cat up, we have to look at other ways to stop the allergy symptoms. Many people look to air purifiers and humidifiers but don’t realize there’s a big difference between the two.
A humidifier adds moisture to the air. Many people use humidifiers in the winter to combat dry skin and nosebleeds but too much humidity can be a bad thing. The EPA recommends an indoor humidity level between 30-60% to make dry air bearable and to reduce mold growth safely.
Air purifiers cleanse the air from pollutants like dust, pet dander, bacteria, and pollen. While air purifiers don’t do anything to humidify the air, they do help with sneezing, stuffy or runny noses, skin rashes, and other respiratory issues like asthma. You can use an air purifier for pet odor and other household odors as well.
Price-wise, both will cost you roughly $100-500, depending on the manufacturer, size, and effectiveness. It really comes down to what you need it to do and in this case, it’s to help alleviate allergies.
History of Allergies and How They Were Treated
Allergies may be a hot topic now but there was a time when it was only talked about during the spring when flowers were blooming and foliage was coming out of hibernation.
Despite this, allergies have been around for thousands of years. The first known case was King Meses of Egypt, who died as a result of a wasp sting between 3640 and 3300 BC.
Herbs have been used for medicinal purposes in Asia since 2700 BC when Shen Nong began using them to heal ailments. Legend has it, he was the first to taste ephedra and use it for asthma-like symptoms. Today, ephedrine is used to treat breathing problems and as a nasal decongestant, both of which are allergy symptoms.
The Ancient Egyptians used inhalants for asthma-like symptoms as pointed out in the Ebers Papyrus, a medical journal dating back to 1550 BC. In the medical scrolls, Egyptians detailed heating frankincense, yellow ochre, and grapes over a fire and breathing the steam to help restricted breathing.
Hippocrates (460-375 BC) is considered the “Father of Medicine” and used science and reasoning as his basis of healing during the Classical Greek period. His findings are widely regarded as what modern medicine was founded on, including his beliefs on the causation of diseases, including asthma.
Before 1492 when Columbus sailed the ocean blue, ancient Americans used both plants and religious customs to heal respiratory illnesses. After Europeans began arriving in the New World, other herbal discoveries like the dried root of the ipecacuanha shrub and balsam started to be used as expectorants. In fact, balsam is still found in cough medicine.
How Allergies Affect Us Today
Science hasn’t been able to pinpoint why the number of allergy cases increases over time but leading experts believe it starts in the immune system. When we inhale pollen, dust, or other allergens, our immune systems treat them like invaders and put up defense mechanisms to stop them from causing harm.
Part of this defense mechanism is producing Immunoglobulin E (IgE) antibodies. The IgE antibodies release histamine, among other chemicals, which causes us to sneeze, cough, have a sore throat and other allergic reactions. That’s why your doctor advises you to take an anti-histamine when your allergies flare up.
The most common causes of respiratory allergies are pet dander, dust, and pollen. Allergies and asthma usually go hand in hand but there are differences between the two.
Asthma is a disease in the bronchial tubes which restricts breathing. Allergies can cause asthma-like symptoms like breathing issues. Like allergies, asthma diagnoses have steadily been on the rise.
Believe it or not, better hygiene is one of the reasons, according to researchers. Scientists believe that because we put more of an emphasis on washing our hands and using a hand sanitizer that children are not building up strong immune systems later in life.
We also have more cleaning products with harmful chemicals that we are constantly breathing in and coming into contact with.
Pet Dander And Allergies: What You Need to Know
85 million families, about 68% of Americans, own a pet. You know that 30% of adults and 40% of children suffer from allergies, which means there’s some overlap.
Pet hair is often blamed for sneezing and runny noses in our homes but it’s actually the pet dander, not the hair that causes our allergies to go haywire. Pet dander is tiny flakes of skin that come off our pets with their hair or fur when they shed.
The two do go hand in hand, but it’s not the hair itself that is causing you to sneeze, contrary to popular belief.
Another myth we can dispell is that pet dander isn’t reserved for dogs or cats, either. Birds, hamsters, ferrets, and guinea pigs also give off dander. And it gets worse with age (your pet’s age, not yours!).
As our pets age, their skin gets drier and they shed more. That’s why you may have noticed your allergy symptoms getting worse as your pet gets older. It’s not so much you as it is them.
If your allergies are on the extreme side, you’ve probably purchased a vacuum with a HEPA filter but there is more than you can do.
Why Finding the Best Air Purifier for Pet Allergies and Asthma Is Important
Why it’s important is the easy answer – because you want to breathe better! Allergies can also cause long-term damage to your organs like inflammation and possibly chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD). Keeping your air as free from these pollutants will put you on the right track for years to come.
An air purifier is how you do this. These devices pull dander, hair, and odor out of your air so you’re breathing fresh, clean air instead. Your allergies and asthma will be reduced and you’ll probably kick yourself for not getting one sooner!
What to Look For
All air purifiers will help clean your air one way or another but when you are a pet owner, you’ll want to go above and beyond the base model of any brand. These are the features you need to look for when making your air purifier purchase:
HEPA stands for high-efficiency particulate air. It works by forcing air through a fine mesh that traps the particles. You may come across filters that claim to remove all particles from the air but unless it says “HEPA filter,” don’t trust it.
A HEPA filter is the only one certified to remove 99.97% of allergens as small as .3 microns. Most air purifiers come with a HEPA filter for this reason but always double check the product info to be sure.
The more you run an air purifier with a HEPA filter, the less pet dander will be in your air and, ultimately, in your body.
A Washable Filter
Many HEPA filters are washable, either by water and soap or by vacuuming them. This may cost more at the onset but in the long run, will save you money. If you run your air purifier regularly, it will get dirty fast.
Replacing a HEPA filter when this happens is expensive but with a little time and effort, washing one is a good alternative.
A carbon pre-filter takes larger particles (bigger than .3 microns) out of the air. This helps your HEPA filter to collect more pollutants since the carbon pre-filter is removing larger contaminants like pet hair, it’s allowing the HEPA filter to do what it does best – trap smaller allergens like pet dander without getting clogged up.
Do you know what else a carbon pre-filter does? It removes pet odor! A carbon pre-filter will also remove Volatile Organic Compounds (VOCs), which are essentially gases from cigarette smoke, painting, cleaning products, those types of things.
When used with a HEPA filter, your air purifier has a one-two punch for removing pet dander and odor.
Check the CADR Rating
The Clean Air Delivery Rate (CADR) is a numerical value given to air purifiers from the Association of Home Appliance Manufacturers (AHAM). Since 1980, the AHAM has been performing independent tests on air cleaners to measure their effectiveness.
The process an air purifier goes through to get its rating is pretty simple but the results are important:
- An air purifier is placed in a 1008 cubic foot testing chamber.
- The amount of contaminants in the chamber is measured before it’s turned on.
- The purifier runs for a total of 20 minutes.
- During this time, the amount of contaminants is checked every minute.
- After the testing period ends, the number of contaminants is compared to their natural reduction rate.
The testers then assign a rating to the unit. The CADR rating is used by air purifier manufacturers, the EPA, and the Federal Trade Commision, so the results are considered effective.
Make sure when you’re looking at the different air purifiers on the market that you check the room coverage! It sounds like a no-brainer, but the best air purifier for pet allergies will have a maximum coverage limit and you want to fall within that or the purifier won’t work as well as it should.
What to Avoid
Because your goal is to remove pet dander from your air, there are some buzzwords in the air cleaner business that sound good but doesn’t necessarily help you.
“Air ionizer” is perhaps the biggest buzzword in the industry. Many modern air purifiers currently on the market have built-in ionizers, but you need to know a few facts about them before deciding using an ionizer is what you want to do.
Ionizers are marketed to clean the air but what they do is add ozone particles to the air. These particles are harmful to your lungs and can aggravate allergies and asthma even more.
Sounds a little counterproductive, doesn’t it? The EPA doesn’t approve or recommend the use of ionizers even though you will see an “EPA establishment number” on a product that contains an ionizer.
The EPA is very clear that this number is used to determine the specific facility that makes the product, it is not an endorsement!
If you do find an air purifier that ticks all the boxes you’re looking for but has an ionizer, see if you are able to turn it off. Many modern air purifiers will give you the option or allow you to remove it completely.
Beware of the Dust Mite Hype
A HEPA filter removes dust mites, not the air purifier itself. This is important to note because there is a lot of marketing out there specifically targeting dust mites.
It’s another buzzword in the industry that has people scrambling to purchase a product that eliminates it without people fully understanding what it means.
There has been no indication that air purifiers themselves cause a reduction in dust mite allergies. Again, it’s the HEPA filter, not the unit!
The Best Air Purifiers for Pet Allergies and Asthma
Here is a list of some of the best air purifiers available on Amazon that also meet the specifications and recommendations we outlined above.
First up we have the Levoit LV-PUR131
- Odor Control with Carbon Filter YES
- HEPA filter YES
- Treatable area 322 sq ft
- UVC sanitizer NO
As you can see, this air purifier meets all the major points necessary to cut down on the indoor air pollution like dander and hair that your pet leaves behind. This unit does not feature an ionizer, which have been shown to cause lung irritation when they are used. It is also capable of filtering the air in a large room of over 300 square feet.
The only downside is that it does not come with an ultraviolet germicidal lightbulb. If that feature is important to you, check out our next air purifier.
Next up we have the Oregon Scientific Air Purifier
- Odor Control with Carbon Filter YES
- HEPA filter YES
- Treatable area 323 sq ft
- UVC sanitizer YES
The Oregon Scientific Air Purifier has all the features you can find in the Levoit LV-PUR131 and a little more. As we mentioned above, this air purifier features an ultraviolet light inside the purifier that sanitizes the air. The UV light kills germs and bacteria that are too small to be captured by a HEPA filter.
Here we have the GermGuardian AC4100
- Odor Control with Carbon Filter YES
- HEPA filter YES
- Treatable area around 200 sq ft
- UVC sanitizer YES
The GermGuardian AC4100 has all the features you need in a slightly smaller size and a lower price point. While this unit is more affordable it does cover a smaller area.
Do You Have More Questions?
Finding the best air purifier for pet allergies and asthma is important to you, which makes it important to us. Our blog was specifically designed with your comfort in mind. We have product reviews ranging from automatic pet feeders to deciding on what essential oil diffuser for allergies is best for you.