Hypersensitivity to house dust mites is a common problem for dogs, cats as well as people. House dust mites are microscopic and ubiquitous. They feed on human and animal dander, skin scales and hair. They are frequently found in beds, mattresses, carpets, sofas and pet bedding. Mites can flourish in the home environment because the temperature and humidity are optimum (50-70% relative humidity).
It is difficult and even impossible to eliminate mites from the environment of an allergic patient. An effective environmental control regimen can help to decrease the number of mites and therefore minimize the patient’s discomfort. Also, hyposensitization therapy (allergy vaccines) can be effective in controlling or reducing clinical symptoms associated with mite allergy.
The following steps may help control mite populations (special attention should be given to the sleeping areas of the allergic dog or cat):
- Bare floors, such as hardwood, vinyl or tile are best; if carpet is used, low pile is preferable. The mites survive well in carpeting.
- Use only synthetic material in the pet’s bedding. Feathers, wool or horsehair stuffing should be avoided. Remember, cedar shavings may be a source of allergic dermatitis in the dog.
- Wash all pet bedding frequently in hot water (whole bed, not just cover).
- If your pet sleeps in your bed, encase mattresses and box springs in airtight plastic and seal zippers on these casings with tape. Use washable blankets and mattress pads. The most dust free type of bed is a waterbed.
- Change the furnace and air conditioning filters frequently. Electrostatic filters may be more effective in filtering out dust, mites and inhalant particles. No specific research has been performed on these filters and their performance in controlling clinical signs of allergy in the dog.
- Use air conditioning to control the temperature during warm months. Central air conditioning is preferred, but window units are also helpful. Try to maintain the humidity levels between 30 and 50%. Dehumidifiers may prove beneficial.
- Vacuum floors, wet mop and dust with a damp cloth daily. The room should be properly aired after vacuuming.
- Groom your pet frequently, preferably outside of the house environment if possible.
We hope these tips help you control dust mites in your home.