Pets give us their best and one of our responsibilities as owners is the help them breathe easier when they are inside the home. Yes. HVAC systems and indoor air quality can impact the health of pets.
Most often, you will read information about how pets impact the quality of air inside a home. This is true. They bring in germs, pollen, viruses, dander, and odors that we would not otherwise see in the air. Keeping them clean and cleaning up after them is just part of having a pet. Pets do affect the quality of air we breathe indoors.
However, what about the other side of the situation? What can we do to help them breathe easier? What are some of the things we are doing that directly impact their level of health and ability to breathe easier?
Dogs and cats have a pretty impressive set of olfactory receptors in their noses. Humans have about 6 million receptors and pets have around 300 million. This is great when you need a dog to find a buried person under some ruble, but consider what that blessing turns into when a dog encounters an air pollutant. In short, they begin to suffer tremendously.
Other types of animals are effected by air pollutants. Wildlife breath in air outside that has been infiltrated with petrochemical emissions and chemical off gassing. These animals are also showing an increase in cancers due to the deterioration of ozone in our atmosphere. This gradual and persistent deterioration allows the sun to burn through and send higher and more frequent rays of radiation to their bodies.
County extension agents and Forest Rangers are reporting changes in cycles of procreation and predictable cycles of life in the wild. Bird species are becoming extinct, other wildlife are changing mating habits and as a result numbers are decreasing. All of these changes are being traced back to an increase in pollution.
One of the leading causes of pet health issues is the use of commercial air fresheners. Folks buy them and either spray them or plug them into the wall. They give off a scent that covers the offending smell. But, they also put formaldehydes, aerosol propellants, petroleum distillates, dichlorobenzene, and other chemicals into the air. These chemicals are highly toxic to humans and animals.
Here are some natural alternatives to synthetic air fresheners. You can use baking soda, flowers, herbs, environmentally friendly non-aerosol sprays, organic soy and beeswax candles.
What You Can Do
- Keep your pet clean. There is nothing like a good scrub with a natural soap and water to get dander, outdoor air contaminants, and dirt off a dog or cat’s body.
- Make sure they have plenty of accessible water. Hydrating a pet works just like us humans. Their bodies use water to cleanse it from disease, toxins, and pollutants.
- Groom them. Keep their underlying skins and their furs clean and combed out. This will remove many germs and dead skin from their bodies.
- Maintain your HVAC system. Have regular maintenance performed on your home system. This will include replacing air filters and cleaning out the ducts. These accumulate all sorts of airborne particulate matter that pets will breathe into their bodies.
- Consider installing and consistently using HEPA filters. These filter out contaminants at the microscopic level and will remove even more potential threats to your pets.
- Choose cleaning products that are safe. Use vinegar, baking soda, and natural soaps as opposed to commericial grade or home cleansers bought over the counter.
- Vacuum your house often and run your fan in the HVAC system while you are doing it. This will get rid of hair and dander through the vacuum cleaner and the fan will cycle out the bits that end up in the air while you are working.
Stop smoking indoors. Secondary smoke is full of the same things you are putting in your lungs. Your pets shouldn’t have to suffer from your use of nicotine inside the house.