How to Reduce Dog Dander

By Catherine Troiano

The thought of giving up a cherished pet because someone in the household has been diagnosed with an allergy to pet dander can be devastating. Fortunately, you and your canine companion may continue to share a home if you take a few extra cleaning and decontamination steps to dramatically reduce dander in your home environment. They include cleaning your home, cleaning your dog and filtering the air.

Understand the Source

Dog dander is tiny bits of dead skin and dried proteins. Even smooth-coated and hairless dogs shed dander. The lightweight dander drifts through the air until it adheres to surfaces such as furniture, carpeting and bedding. Since dander can be in the air you breathe and on the surfaces of your surroundings, you will need to step up on housecleaning tasks and plop Rocky into the tub more frequently.

Reduce Places for Dander Accumulation

Carpets are collection depots for dog dander. Fabric window treatments also harbor these allergens. Remove carpeting, opting for tile or wood flooring instead. Use area rugs that you can easily throw into a washing machine. Install washable blinds or shades on the windows, and do not keep more fabric curtains than you can fit into a single load of laundry. Using machine-washable slipcovers on the furniture can help. Designate one room in the house, preferably the allergic individual’s bedroom, as a dog-free zone. Declaring this room off limits to your dog will prevent dander accumulation on the bedding and provide the allergic individual a place to seek comfort and breathe easier.

Clean the Home Environment

Vacuum floors frequently with a vacuum cleaner that contains a HEPA filter and uses disposable electrostatic bags to keep the vacuumed allergens trapped inside. Dust walls and hard surfaces with a damp dusting cloth; dry-dusting pushes the dander around instead of removing it. Clean larger upholstered items, such as furniture, with a steam cleaner. Use a lint roller daily to collect dander onto adhesive sheets that you can toss into the trash outdoors. In addition to tossing fabric items such as blanket throws, area rugs and curtains into the washing machine, launder your dog’s bed daily. Throw away his old bed and replace it with two, so he always has one to snooze in while the other is being cleaned. Place HEPA air purifiers in the dog-free room and in other rooms throughout the home to catch dander particles from the air. Consider a room spray specifically formulated to neutralize allergens.

Bathe Your Dog

Bathing your dog as frequently as once a week will remove some of the dander from his skin and coat before it sheds into the environment. Since frequent bathing can cause dry and irritated skin in some dogs, which can exacerbate the dander shedding problem, consult your veterinarian. He may recommend a milder shampoo for your dog. Wiping down your dog between baths with a moist pet wipe can keep dander accumulation on his skin and coat minimal. Frequent brushing or combing in an outdoor setting can help remove some of the dander from your dog.

Minimize Personal Exposure

Take precautions to reduce exposure to dander. If possible, a household member who's not allergic should take on home cleaning and dog grooming duties. If this is not feasible, an allergy sufferer should wear a dust-screening mask during these tasks. Wear an outfit that provides full coverage and launders easily when cuddling or playing with your dog. Wash your hands immediately after these bonding sessions and after petting your dog before touching your hands to your eyes and face. If you are diligent, your dog may continue to provide you and your family with unconditional love and loyal companionship despite allergies to his dander.