(Photo by Michael Dodge/Getty Images)

How to Maintain Good IAQ Amidst the Dander: The Relationship Between Your Pets and Your Home

By Guest Blogger, Heather Hernandez

What Is IAQ and Why Is It Important?

IAQ is short for Indoor Air Quality. It is a critical component to our health, and our pets’, because it’s a determining measurement for quality of life. By ensuring that we maintain a high indoor air quality, we can ensure that we live a more comfortable and healthy life since incidences of allergies and air-borne diseases will be minimized.

How do pets contribute to poor IAQ?

Pets have long since been considered companions for human beings and there are numerous benefits to their company. To name some, pets are a critical source of companionship for single people, they can offer therapeutic benefits, help reduce stress for the sickly, and help adults to manage depression. Although pets can be an important source of companionship for humans, they can also compromise the quality of air if they are not handled with care.

Some of the ways through which a pet can compromise the quality of your indoor air are:

  • Through the shedding of pet dander: Pet ownership is high in the country with estimates indicating that close to 70 percent of homesteads in the country own either a dog or a cat as a pet. It is also estimated that about 10 to 15 percent of people in United States are allergic to pet dander. Pet dander is comprised of tiny specks that fall off from pets that is similar to dandruff in humans. If your pet experiences adverse dander shedding, it will accumulate on different surfaces of your home and lead to allergic reactions.
  • If your pet sheds a lot of dander and fur, it might block your AC system and compromise its efficiency. If you own a pet, chances are that its fur or dander will be filling the air ducts in your AC and this will reduce its efficiency over time. If your AC is not working optimally, the system's functionality will reduce which will, in turn, lead to reduced IAQ. To enhance the quality of your indoor air, you should conduct more frequent inspections on your AC system to ensure that the clogged air ducts are cleaned regularly.
  • By introducing dirt into your home: Pets - whether cats, dogs, pigs, or any other - are often playful creatures that will often move in and out of your home. Once your pet goes outside, it is almost guaranteed that it will step on dirt, feces, mud, and other materials that when introduced into your home could compromise the quality of your indoor air. Dirt is often attached to your pet's fur and paws and monitoring it can be a difficult endeavor. Pets can tend to introduce dirt into your home, and this will compromise the quality of your indoor air.
  • Pet food can also be a source of pollution to your indoor air. This is because pets can be playful, even during feeding time. If your dog or cat drops its food behind the sofa or underneath your bed, it will be difficult to get it cleaned since you might not notice it. Pet saliva also contains bacteria that will accelerate the rate of decomposition on the food. Once the food rots and decomposes, it will be a source of an odor in your home, which will compromise the quality of your indoor air.
  • Pet toys can also be a source of bad odor if dropped accidentally down the floor ducts. If your pet enjoys playing with its toy, it will leave traces of saliva on it. Once the toys accidentally fall into the floor ducts, the bacteria from the saliva will soon start to stink and becomes unpleasant. Toys that contain pet saliva, food remains, pet dander, and pet hair will pollute your indoor quality after decomposition.

 

How are pets affected by poor IAQ?

There are different ways through which the quality of your indoor air affects your pet. Some of them are:

 

  • Research has shown that cats exposed to secondhand smoke indoors develop weaker lungs as compared to cats that are in smoke free homes. A cat that has weaker lungs will experience difficulties breathing and you will need to make several visits to the vet.
  • A study on the effects of poor indoor air quality found out that dogs in homes where there is common use of cleaning products develop nasal and lung cancer over time.
  • If your pet falls sick due to poor IAQ, it will spend a lot of time seeing the vet, which will be unfortunate not just for your wallet, but for your injection-receiving pet.
  • Polluted or contaminated indoor air might affect your pet's body temperatures. If there is poor air circulation in your home, there will be limited fresh air indoors and this leads to overheated indoor air. Overheating in your home will be uncomfortable and unsafe and causes heat stress in your pet.

 

If your pet breathes contaminated air, you will have to spend a lot of money taking your pet to the vet. Ensuring that the IAQ in your home is as recommended ensures that your pet health is not in jeopardy.