Insights | Allergy | Pets
Pet allergies in children: eight ways to protect your family
The Dyson 2022 Global Dust Study found that 57% of global households own a pet. But as adorable as furry friends may be, they can trigger allergic reactions in children that range from mild discomfort to respiratory issues.
Allergies to cats and dogs affect 10-20% of the world’s population.¹ Yet if your child is one of those affected by pet allergies, the good news is there may be steps you can take to help relieve their symptoms, so they can love your family pet as much as you do.
Our eight practical tips aim to help you create a safe and allergen-free environment around your pet.
1. Understand pet allergies and their causes
Many people have animal allergies, especially those who have other allergies or asthma.² Contrary to popular belief, it’s not your pets’ hair, fur, or feathers that cause allergies – it’s the proteins found in their dander (dead skin cells), saliva and urine.³ Exposure to these protein allergens cause an immune system response and a range of symptoms, including:
- sneezing and a runny or stuffy nose
- itchy, watery eyes
- coughing and wheezing
- skin rashes and hives
- difficulty breathing.
Allergies to pets with fur are common, but even rabbits, guinea pigs, hamsters and ferrets can all cause allergy symptoms.³ And pet dander can easily stick to furniture, bedding, fabrics and items carried in and out of the home.
2. Consult with an allergist
If you suspect that your child has pet allergies, seek professional medical advice from an allergist. They can perform allergy testing to identify the specific allergens causing the reactions and develop an appropriate treatment plan.
3. Create pet-free zones
Establish specific areas in your home, such as bedrooms or playrooms, where pets are not allowed. This creates a sanctuary for your child to retreat to and reduces their exposure to allergens.
4. Vacuum regularly
Vacuuming carpets, upholstery, and curtains with a HEPA-filtered vacuum cleaner helps remove pet dander and other allergens from your home. Dyson vacuums are engineered to capture and contain household dirt and pet hair. Our Motorbar™ cleaner head is engineered to suck up pet hair without tangling, while the Hair screw tool has an anti-tangle brush bar that quickly removes hair from pet beds, car seats, sofas and stairs.
5. Groom your pets
Regularly grooming your pets can significantly reduce the amount of allergens they release into the environment. Keep your pet's coat neat and healthy with traditional brushes and combs, or use the Dyson Pet grooming tool – a specialized vacuum attachment – to capture loose hair and dander as you brush them. Bathing your furry friend and brushing their fur can help remove allergens and keep them under control.
6. Use high-quality air purifiers and filters
Invest in high-quality air purifiers with HEPA filters to capture airborne pet allergens effectively. Place these machines in rooms where your child spends the most time to help create cleaner air.
7. Encourage hand hygiene
Teach your child the importance of proper handwashing after interacting with pets, as this can help minimize allergen transfer from their hands to their face, reducing the risk of allergic reactions.
8. Give appropriate medications
Over-the-counter antihistamines can provide temporary relief from allergy symptoms, but consult your GP for appropriate long-term medications for your child.
Pet allergies can have an impact on children's health and well-being, but with proper precautions, you can help protect your family from unnecessary discomfort. The well-being of your family is important, so with the right strategies, you can strike a balance between your child's health and their love for animals.
¹Chan SK and Leung DYM (2023). Dog and Cat Allergies: Current State of Diagnostic Approaches and Challenges. Allergy Asthma Immunol Res, 10 (2), pp. 97-105.
²Asthma and Allergy Foundation of America (2023). Pet Allergy. Available at: https://aafa.org/allergies/types-of-allergies/pet-dog-cat-allergies/ (Accessed July 2023).
³Allergy UK (2023). Pet Allergy. Available at: https://www.allergyuk.org/resources/pet-allergy-factsheet/ (Accessed July 2023).