We Canadians love our pets. In fact, over half of us make them part of our families, with about one-third owning a dog and another third partial to cats. Perhaps not surprisingly, as we spent much of the last couple of years in isolation, nearly 3 in 10 of us adopted a pet during the pandemic.
There’s no question — our pets bring us joy and improve the quality of our lives. However, what they may not do is improve our air quality. Pet dander — tiny particles of skin that dogs, cats and other furry pets shed with their hair — can float around your home’s air and trigger allergies. And even after the dander settles, it’s incredibly light, so sitting on your sofa or walking across your rug can send it back into the air and your lungs.
The good news is minimizing pet dander and improving your indoor air quality is easy to do. Here are a few suggestions:
Grooming: Brushing and combing your pet’s fur every few days, as well as bathing them, is a great way to deal with dander at its source. It also removes hair mats and helps dogs shed their seasonal coat.
Vacuuming: Disposing of your pet’s fur right away by vacuuming also goes a long way to keep dander and fur out of your nose.
Sleeping: Many of us love to have our dog or cat sleep with us, but this can degrade the air quality in the room you likely spend one-third of your day in.
Air filters: Pet owners may need to clean their HVAC air filters more frequently. That’s because dander and fur can accumulate on your filter, decreasing airflow, causing your system to work harder and potentially increasing your energy bill. While homeowners are typically advised to change air filters every three months, the reality is you should check your filter regularly and change them when needed.
HRV and ERV systems: While a traditional air purifier can help clean the air in your home, it doesn’t ventilate it. Heat Recovery Ventilation and Energy Recovery Ventilation systems exchange stale indoor air with fresh air from outside your home. It’s a convenient way to help effectively remove niggly particles that could affect you — and your pets.
Humidifier: Dry air is a common source of discomfort at home for humans and animals (except for that pet goldfish.) A whole-home humidifier adds moisture only when it’s needed and limits the humidity to the setting level you select.
Keeping Pets Comfortable
Dogs and cats may not need the same degree of heating and cooling as we do. However, especially when you’re out for the day, it’s a good idea to leave water out for them and a room where they can stay cool when it’s hot out and a warm spot when it’s cold.