Weekly challenge: reduce pet allergens in your home

About 15 percent to 30 percent of people with allergies have allergic reactions to furry or feathered pets. The dander—a combination of dead skin cells and hair (or feathers)—shed by cats, dogs, and birds can trigger sneezing, runny nose, and itchy watery eyes in those who are susceptible.

There are, though, ways to minimize such reactions short of giving up your pet—though many people with severe allergies need to give up their furry or feathered friends for those with scales, gills or hard shells.. Here are some tips recommended by the editors of Health magazine.

1. Keep pets outdoors as much as possible. This can help reduce dander in your home. Keeping pets in rooms with wood floors can also trap less dander than carpeted rooms.

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2. Get animals out of your bed. “If you can’t bear to part with your pet, you should at least keep it out of the bedroom,” said the Asthma and Allergy Foundation of America on their website. Using allergen-resistant bedding is also a good idea to help you avoid stray dander that drifts into your bedroom.

3. Ban pets from the couch. Again, you want to keep dander off of areas where you spend a great amount of time. If that’s non-negotiable with fluffy, you’ll need to vacuum your furniture and wash throws and pillows frequently to remove these allergens.

4. Combat dust. Dusting and vacuuming at least once a week is crucial to keep dander and other allergens to a minimum. Using a high-efficiency particulate air filter vacuum may be helpful to keep dander deep in rugs from getting airborne as you clean. If possible, clean when the person with allergies isn’t home. “Replacing the filter in your furnace or air conditioner with a HEPA filter and/or purchasing a room air cleaner may also help,” according to Health magazine.

5. Bathe your pet. Research suggests this can reduce the amount of dander that dogs shed by about 50 percent but levels return to normal after about three days—so two doggie baths a week may be necessary.