If you’re like the rest of us, you would happily dive in front of a speeding bus to protect your pet. Our pets bring out the best in us. Nothing quite compares to coming home to the unconditional love (or silent resentment in the case of cats) of your loyal companion. And pets can do more than just keep you company; they can also lift your spirits, improve health, and decrease stress.

But owning a pet comes with the reality of living with pet dander, an allergen that can be bothersome. By now, you have probably heard that air purifiers can help remove these allergens and improve your air quality, but perhaps you have also considered how they may affect your furry friends.

 We know you already give your pets everything they need to feel loved and only want the best for them, so read on to find out if the air purifier you’re considering is safe for your trusted companion.

Mission imPawsible?

While we love our fur beasts more than life itself, having them in the house can be extremely detrimental to our home health. Animals bring in dirt and grime from outside and track it all over your home. They also bring in outdoor odors, dander, and pet hair, as well as allergens you didn’t even know existed.

 Housepets like cats and dogs are constantly shedding particles that can be especially harmful to people with allergies. While you may think you have vacuumed all of the animal hair off a surface, you cannot control the dander from pet skin cells that are constantly being released. Contrary to popular belief, these cells are actually the culprits that cause you to sniffle and sneeze.

If you’ve noticed a decline in the air quality of your living space since bringing home your pet, you have probably considered an air purifier, and for a legitimate reason. Air purifiers are one of the best ways to improve the air quality of your home.

Most air purifiers you come across will claim they remove pet odor, but almost none will tell you they are safe for your pet. We are here to tell you they are safe! Air purifiers are completely safe to use around animals and may even improve their health! Just like you, inhaling harmful airborne particles is bad for your pets, and they too stand to benefit from cleaner air. But some purifiers are safer than others.

OZoning Violation

Air purifiers come in many different shapes and sizes. When starting your search, you will likely come across HEPA and Ionic air purifiers. Both improve air quality but differ in their approach.

  • Ionic purifiers are filterless and vary in their methods for cleaning the air. Ionic purifiers emit a negative ion charge that attaches to airborne particles. When the charge connects to the particles, they become too heavy to stay afloat and fall to the ground or surrounding surfaces.
  • HEPA models use mesh filters with fine holes that collect and trap dirty air particles. HEPA purifiers remove small allergens and particles in their filters and require more frequent cleaning and filter replacement.

 When shopping for an air purifier that is pet-friendly, the main products to avoid are those that emit ozone. “The layer that protects me from the sun?” The very same! While the ozone layer protects us way up in the atmosphere, it can be dangerous when it is generated in our living space. Ozone generating air purifiers are usually more difficult to come by since they are also not recommended for use in the home due to the dangers of inhaling too much ozone.

 If you subject your pet to too much ozone, they may start to develop respiratory problems. If you have a smaller pet, specifically a bird, ozone-emitting air purifiers can cause death. This is because they produce too much oxygen for birds to inhale.

 Best to leave ozone-emitting air purifiers to professionals and stick to safer options.

Bad Air is Our Pet Peeve

So, what type of air purifier should you consider if you want to clean your air and protect your pet? Lucky for you, most air purifiers on the market will benefit both you and your pet’s air quality.

Making a HEPA Difference

The safest option for you and your pet is a HEPA filter. Unlike ozone emitting purifiers and, to a lesser extent, some ionizers, HEPA filters don’t add anything to your air in order to clean it. There are no harmful particles produced by HEPA purifiers that can enter you or your pet’s lungs since they use a subtractive filtration method. This means they remove particles from the air by filtering them through several layers of filter, which remove odors and allergens. The result is clean, fresh air being blown back into the room.

 These units are generally two-step. Air passes through a carbon filter which captures larger particles like pet dander, dust, dirt, mold spores, and other allergens. The remaining air then proceeds through the HEPA layer, or main layer, of purification. In the HEPA filter, tiny microscopic particles like bacteria and airborne viruses are captured deep in the folds of the HEPA paper.

 The air that is expelled out of the side or top of the purifier is pure air particles that will have a fresh scent and, more importantly, be safe to inhale. Nothing in this process is dangerous for you or your pets, which is why these are one of the top choices when trying to purify your home’s air supply.

 The biggest “issue” with HEPA air purifiers is the need to replace parts. These air purifiers require a filter change at least every six months. Otherwise, these are great products to consider.

UV-C You Next Time!

Just kidding, we’re not going anywhere just yet. We need to tell you about another great option for you and your pet: UV-C Lights.

 UV-C Lights are air purifiers that use short-wave ultraviolet light (UV-C light) to inactivate airborne pathogens and microorganisms like bacteria, mold, and viruses. As air is forced through the device, it passes through UV lamps. These lamps disinfect the air using germicidal irradiation.

 These are not usually standalone devices and are often affixed to existing air purifiers. Most commonly, you can find HEPA systems with UV lights since UV-C filters can’t trap or remove particles. The HEPA filter will capture the germs and bacteria while the UV light actively eliminates them. While they are not needed, they do provide great peace of mind knowing the germs have been destroyed.

Photo(catalytic Oxidation Purifier) Finish

Another great option that is safe for your pets is photocatalytic oxidation (PCO) air purifier. These purifiers work by destroying all contaminants in the air. They do this by using a highly concentrated UV-Light spectrum and titanium dioxide to decompose the contaminants. The result is a by-product of only water and carbon dioxide.

A good PCO air purifier can do wonders for even a very large room, destroying everything from allergens, including pet dander, to dangerous organic compounds like gases and other odors.

These are great, albeit expensive, air purifiers that are an excellent option for pet owners. They are adept at reducing pet odor without reducing your pet’s health!

Electrostatic Cling

Another option for pet owners is electrostatic air filters. These use static electricity to trap airborne particles. The static electricity charges particles in the air, which then stick to the sides of the air purifier’s filtration system. Like ionic filters, the static makes the particles heavier, but instead of those particles landing back in the room, they stick to the walls of the purification system because the inside layer attracts opposite charges.

These do not have replaceable air filters. Instead, owners have to remove the filters every few weeks and clean them. This is because a dirty filter will not attract positive or negative particles. Once cleaned, the filter will work as good as new. The more you clean, the better the air quality for you and your pets!

Pet Protection Plan

Now that you know what purifiers are the safest for you and your furry housemate, there are some safety precautions that will ensure they are safe when you start to use your new unit.

The most important thing you should do before you use your air purifier is to find a suitable location. If you have a crazy, new puppy running around, the last thing you want is your purifier getting knocked over. If you can, try to wall mount your air purifier or place your unit on a table.

If you have a bird or other caged animal, place the purifier on the opposite side of the room. Ditto for where your animals sleep. You don’t want to interfere with your animals’ way of life.

When you clean your HEPA air purifier, make sure not to do so around your pets. If you drop or bump the filter, you can release the trapped contaminants back into the air and into your pet’s lungs.

Deep Breaths

There you have it! Air purifiers are safe for you and your pets as long as you follow this guide. Always make sure to check the owner’s manual on your unit in addition to the steps presented here. Check Bulbhead for more home tips, tricks, and products!