House Dust Mite Allergies: 8 Steps to Control Exposure in Dogs and Cats
Dogs with atopic dermatitis and cats with Feline allergic skin syndrome may be sensitized to house dust mites and other mites found indoors.
House dust mites feed on human and animal dander, skin scales, and hair. These microscopic mites thrive in the home environment because the temperature and humidity are optimal (50-70% relative humidity). They are frequently found in beds, mattresses, carpets, sofas, and pet bedding.
While it is nearly impossible to eliminate dust mites from the environment of an allergic pet, there are ways you can decrease the number of mites to minimize discomfort.
Try these eight steps to control mite populations, paying special attention to the sleeping areas of allergic cats or dogs:
- Bare floors, such as hardwood, vinyl, or tile will limit places for mites to inhabit. If carpeting is used, a low pile is a better option.
- Vacuum or sweep and wet mop floors daily or often. Properly air out rooms after vacuuming.
- Use synthetic material in your pet’s bedding. Avoid feathers, wool, or horsehair stuffing. Remember, cedar shavings can irritate dog skin.
- Wash pet bedding frequently in hot water – the whole bed, not just the cover. Replace dog beds once per year or more (mites breed and proliferate in the bed).
- If your pet sleeps in your bed, encase pillows, mattresses, and box springs in airtight plastic and seal zippers on these casings with tape. Use washable blankets and mattress pads.
- Change furnace and air conditioning filters frequently. Electrostatic filters may be more effective in filtering out dust, mites, and inhalant particles.
- Use air conditioning to control the temperature during warm months. Try to maintain humidity levels between 30-50%. Dehumidifiers may also be beneficial.
- Groom your pet frequently, preferably outside of the house.
If your pet has atopic dermatitis and is sensitized to house dust mites, allergen specific immunotherapy (allergy shots or allergy drops) is recommended in combination with topical and systemic therapies. Consult your primary care veterinarian or a veterinary dermatologist.