A dog and a person with a house between their noses

How to Host a Guest Who Has Pet Allergies

Reviewed by: HU Medical Review Board | Last reviewed: August 2022

There are many things to consider when you are hosting guests. There can be extra complications if you have pets and your guest has pet allergies. These tips may make it easier for you, your guest, and your pets to all have a smooth visit.1

What are pet allergies?

Pet allergies are very common. Between 15 and 30 percent of people with allergies are allergic to cats or dogs. Like any allergy, pet allergies are caused by the body’s reaction to an allergen. An allergen is a protein.1,2

Tips for mitigating pet allergies

With pets, this allergen is typically carried by dander or fur. Dander is the dead skin cells a pet sheds. Allergens can also be spread through animal saliva, urine, or feces. Any mammal can spread allergens, but they are typically most severe and common with cats and dogs.1,2

Deep clean your house

One of the most effective things you can do is thoroughly clean your house. This removes fur and dander that might trigger allergies. Some things to think about while cleaning include:2-4

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  • Dust thoroughly, including hard-to-reach places like the tops of picture frames or the legs of furniture.
  • Vacuum thoroughly, including under rugs and furniture. You can also vacuum your upholstered furniture and other fabric surfaces like lampshades or throw pillows.
  • If your guest is sleeping at your house, wash their bedding on hot before they arrive. Even if the bedding is clean, sitting out gives it time to accumulate allergens. A fresh wash can help this.

With dusting and vacuuming, try to do these the day before your guest arrives. This way any allergens that were stirred up have time to settle again.3

Establish a pet-free zone

If your guest is staying over, close off pet access to the area where they will be sleeping. It takes 6 months for allergens to go away, so this will not completely protect the room. But it prevents more allergens from accumulating. If this guest visits often, you can consider making this a permanent pet-free zone. Over time, with no pets in the space, the allergen levels will start to lower.2,3

Groom your pet

Your pet will also benefit from being cleaned before your visitor arrives. If possible, bathe your pet with a pet-safe shampoo. You can also brush or comb them thoroughly. You may consider brushing them outside to keep more allergens from spreading in your house.3

Try an air purifier

If your guest is staying for a long time or visits regularly, you may want to buy an air purifier. Look for a purifier with a HEPA (high efficiency particulate air) filter. Place the purifier in the room where your guest will spend the most time. Try to run if for 2 days before they arrive.2,3

Another trick can help in the summertime. If you have one, turn on your air conditioner. This will lower the humidity in your home, which can reduce the amounts of allergens in the air.3

Consider an anti-allergen pet food

If you have a cat, you may consider feeding them a special cat food to reduce the allergens they produce. At least one cat food brand claims to reduce the allergens in cats' hair and dander.5

Also, a 2019 study showed that feeding cats hen egg yolks reduced the allergens in their saliva. This may help pet food brands create more anti-allergen pet food options in the future.6

Keep supplies on hand

Even if you prepare your home and your house, your guest may still experience allergy symptoms. Stock up on over-the-counter antihistamines and decongestants that you can offer your guest if needed.1,3

Be honest with your guest

Explain to your guest that you have a pet but that you prepared for the visit. If your guest still does not feel comfortable visiting, do not take it personally. Some pet allergies can be severe, and your guest knows their own comfort level best.2,3

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