Dog Allergy Treatments. Vacuum, Sweep & Mop Often.

clean floor allergiesIf you suspect that your dog has allergies, it’s a good idea to start a regular cleaning routine.  Allergen particles are first carried through the air, but eventually will setting onto your furniture and flooring.

Some of the biggest allergen magnets in your home are carpeting and rugs.  Carpeting, especially designs with a higher pile have a lot of nooks and crannies that allergens can settle into. It’s difficult to ever completely remove allergens, but with regular vacuuming (at least once a week), you can eliminate most allergens.

It’s important to know that many old or inexpensive vacuums may actually contribute to poor air quality in your home by throwing allergens back into the air.  There are now several asthma and allergen friendly vacuums which include a small-particle or a high-efficiency particulate air (HEPA) filter.  Be sure to follow the directions for cleaning or changing these filters to keep them working efficiently.

In addition to vacuuming your carpets and rugs, you’ll also want to pull out your vacuum attachments and regularly clean fabric chairs and couches.  Allergens can settle into your furniture and then be tossed into the air each time someone sits down.  As mentioned earlier, if you have slip covers or area rugs, these should be washed in hot water every couple of weeks.

Allergens are not quite as problematic on hard surfaces like hardwood floors, tile and linoleum, since there are fewer places for them to hide. But, you’ll still want to clean these surfaces each week as well.  I’ve found that it works well to either gently vacuum these surfaces or sweep with a broom.

Once the surfaces are clean of crumbs and dirt, I follow up with the following techniques to rid the floor of any additional dust or allergens.  For my wood floors, I like to use a dry dust mop, such as the Swiffer Dry Mop.  These do a great job of picking up additional dirt that I wasn’t able to pull up with the broom or vacuum.

For my tile and linoleum, I’ve recently started using a steam mop.  Steam mops clean your hard surfaces using hot water – no chemicals or detergents.   I use the Haan Steam Cleaning Floor Sanitizer , but there are many other brands and models as well. I’ve found this steam mop does a nice job of cleaning my floors, without leaving behind chemicals or sticky cleaning agents.  The cleaning pads can be washed in the washing machine, which makes maintenance really easy.  These steam mops certainly cost more than a traditional mop, but I’ve found it’s easier to use – which means I’m more inclined to use it regularly.

References:

Allergy-proof Your House by the Mayo Clinic staff
http://www.mayoclinic.com/health/allergy/HQ01514

Tips to Control Indoor Allergens by the Asthma and Allergy Foundation of America
http://www.aafa.org/display.cfm?id=9&sub=18&cont=533

Dog Allergy Treatments. Wash Bedding & Fabrics in Hot Water.

washing machineIn the last post, I reviewed the benefits of dust mite covers.  Although dust mite covers are an excellent way to prevent dust mites from living in your mattress and pillows, you should also plan to regularly wash bedding and other fabrics to prevent these creatures from invading your bedding and furniture.

It is recommended that you wash your bedding – including comforters and bed spreads once a week in hot water.  The hot water will kill any dust mites and the regular washing will eliminate the presence of dead skin cells (what dust mites live on) in your bedding.  Regular washing can also rid your fabrics of other air-traveling allergens like pollen.

In addition to your own bedding, don’t forget to wash your dog’s bedding each week as well.  This includes dog beds.  When you shop for dog beds, look for a model that can fit in your washer and dryer and use hot water when washing.

Be sure to regularly wash and slip covers or throw rugs as well. Virtually all fabrics in your home can attract dust mites and other allergens.  Although it may seem time consuming, the time you spend washing these items will save you time that would otherwise be spent at the vets office or administering allergy treatments.

Dog Allergy Treatments. Use Dust Mite Covers on Bedding.

Dust mite covers for dog allergiesIn a previous post, I discussed how dust mites can cause allergies in humans and pets.  Since these microscopic creatures feed off of dead skin cells, they are most often found in bedding, furniture and carpeting.  This makes your bedroom a popular hangout for dust mites.  If your dog sleeps in or near your bed, dust mites could be contributing to their allergy problems.

An easy way to prevent dust mites in your bedroom is using dust mite covers on your mattresses and pillows.  These special dust mite covers or encasings are designed to prevent dust mites from entering your mattress or pillows.  Dust mites that already exist will die off.

Our dog Elsie sleeps on the floor of our bedroom.  Once I learned about the potential problems with bedroom dust mites, we started using dust mite covers on our mattresses and pillows.  Since we did this along with several other steps to prevent indoor allergens, it is hard to say if this effort alone helped with Elsie’s allergies.  My husband said that after we started using the dust mite covers, he felt more refreshed and less stuffy when he woke up in the mornings.  So, I say it was a good move for all of us.

There are several kinds and qualities of dust mite covers available on the market.  The key is to make sure that you cover all mattresses, box springs and pillows.  Just covering your mattress is not enough. You must also be sure that the covers you purchase are designed to prevent dust mites – basic mattress and pillow covers will not help.  Dust mite covers have a special weave that eliminates the chance that these tiny creatures will enter your bedding. You can purchase dust mite covers from specialty allergy stores online or even from stores like Target and Wal-Mart.

Dog Allergy Causes. Dust Allergies & Dust Mites.

Like humans, dogs can also become sensitive to dust and develop allergies over time.  When we talk about dust allergies, what we’re really talking about are dust mites.

Dust mites, related to spiders, are creatures who feed off of skin cells shed by people and animals.  Unfortunately (or fortunately, if you look at that photo!) these little mites are so small that they can only be seen with a microscope.  This means you could have a raging dust mite problem and not know it.

Dust mites are happiest in warm, humid environments. And, since they feed off of dead skin cells, they are most often found in bedding, furniture and carpeting.  Bedrooms are a popular hangout for dust mites.  Many dogs sleep in their owners’ bedroom, which can be a problem if they are sensitive to dust mites.

If your dog has a dust mite allergy, you’ll likely see them itching and chewing at their skin.  When our dog Elsie was allergy tested, we found that one of the many items she was allergic to, was dust.  Does this mean we found a way to eliminate all dust from our home?  Heck no!  Fat chance of that. But, we have found ways to make our home less hospitable for these little pests.

Later, when we discuss dog allergy treatments, we’ll talk about how you can minimize dust mite problems in your home.