Best Furnace Filters for Homes With Pets

Having a pet in your home comes with many benefits. They can lower your stress levels while increasing outdoor activity and exercise. Pets can even help their humans avoid depression.

But there’s one big drawback to having animals inside: reduced air quality. For some people, allergens are major concern. There’s no getting around the fact that homes with pets have higher levels of dander and fur. But that doesn’t mean you have to live with reduced air quality.

Does a Furnace Filter for Pet Allergies Work?

The short answer is yes. When an appropriately fitted furnace filter is in place, it will help reduce the number of particles in the air that cause pet allergies. Studies even state that air filtration helps reduce the symptoms of pet allergies. The real question is the amount of air particles an air filter can remove.

Furnace filters are made with different materials and construction, which affects the size of the particles that can be captured. This affects how many particles are captured and what kind of particles are removed from the air.

The best part is furnace filters clean the air in general. So if you have other air quality concerns they may be improved as well.

There are a selection of air filters that are made to keep pet dander and odors out of the air so you can live comfortably with your four-legged friends. Let's take a look at the options and how they work.

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What is the Best Rated Furnace Filter to Decrease Dust and Pet Dander?

Furnace filters can decrease dust and pet dander, but which one will work the best? There are several furnace filters that are used to remove pet dander and fur from the air in homes. The options include:

  • Disposable Flat Panel Fiberglass Furnace Filters
  • Disposable Pleated Furnace Filters
  • Washable Pleated Furnace Filters
  • Permanent Electrostatic Filters

Pleated furnace filters are going to provide superior performance compared to fiberglass air filters. The pleating provides more surface area for trapping particles.

A permanent electrostatic filter is a long-term solution for controlling pet dander. An electrostatic filter will use friction from the airflow to create a static charge that attracts air particles. A permanent electrostatic filter is an expensive option. You may want to try a pleated furnace filter with electrostatic technology first.

Another option is filters that have hypoallergenic and microbial properties. These are a good option if someone in the home is sensitive to mold as well as pet dander.

If odor is more of a problem than allergies you may want to consider an active carbon filter. These air filters have an active carbon layer that is able to draw in odor particles and trap them within the carbon material.

You’ll also encounter furnace filters marketed as “allergy filters.” This really refers to filters with a MERV rating over 8 rather than a specific type of material or special design.

MERV Rating

The most important thing to look at is the furnace filter’s MERV rating. MERV stands for Minimum Efficiency Reporting Values. It’s an indicator of how well a filter works and the types of air particles it can trap.

For pet dander and allergies you’ll want furnace filters with a MERV 8 to a MERV 13 rating. Furnace filters with a MERV 8 rating or higher can effectively remove pet dander from the air. On average, MERV 8 filters remove 85% of large air particles and 50% of small particles. The higher you go the better the filtration will be, but we don’t recommend going higher than MERV 13. A MERV 13 furnace filter filters 95% of large air particles and 80% of small particles without creating airflow issues.

READ MORE:All About MERV Ratings

How Often to Change Furnace Filter With Pets

The general recommendation is to change your furnace filters every 3 months. But when you have furry friends in your home, that might not be enough.

When cats and dogs are kicking up dust, fur and pet dander, you should replace your furnace filter once a month. If your pet doesn’t shed much, you groom them regularly and no one in the house has allergies, you may be able to stretch it out to 6-8 weeks before needing a replacement.

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HEPA Furnace Filter For Home Pet Dander

Let’s talk about a HEPA washable furnace filter for home pet dander. To eco-friendly homeowners, this option may seem like a no-brainer. It’s a HEPA filter, and it’s reusable. While both of those things are great in theory, they aren’t always great for your HVAC system.

We’ll start with the HEPA part. HEPA stands for High Efficiency Particulate Air. A true HEPA filter is considered to offer the best filtration possible. HEPA air filters can filter out 99.97% of particles that are 3 micron and larger. That’s great news for allergy sufferers but bad news for your HVAC system.

It takes a heavy-duty furnace filter to provide that much filtration. Typically, the HEPA filter restricts air flow. This can affect comfort inside, but more importantly, it can cause the HVAC to work harder and wear out parts prematurely.

Washable air filters are also problematic. Cleaning pet fur out of a washable furnace filter isn’t always easy. Second, most washable air filters have a low MERV rating that won’t adequately remove pet dander.

You’re better off using a disposable pleated air filter and putting a portable air purifier with a true HEPA filter in rooms where you need additional filtration.

READ MORE: Types of Furnace Filters

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Q&A: Furnace Filters and Pet Dander

Our experts answer the most commonly asked questions about furnace filters for homes with pets.

Can a furnace filter really reduce dust and pet dander?

Yes. We know it seems insane that a simple filter can do so much, but it’s possible. Of course, you need to use a furnace filter with a MERV 8 rating or higher. The best option is a MERV 13 furnace filter because it provides superior filtration without negatively impacting air flow.

Does a furnace filter filter pet dander?

The filter traps the dander particles as air circulates through the HVAC system. Essentially, the filter material traps the pet dander particles, removing them from the air as the air passes through. The filtration happens continuously when the air is flowing.

How often do you change the furnace filter with pets?

As noted above, furnace filters should be replaced or cleaned once a month if pets are in the home. Taking extra air filtration precautions can stretch that out by a few weeks.