Owning a dog or a cat can bring a lot of joy into your life… but it can also bring a lot of sneezing, sniffling, and even trouble breathing if you’re sensitive to the dander and hair they leave around the house. You and your family shouldn’t have to go through that on a daily basis, but you also shouldn’t have to give up your four-legged companion. While there’s no way you can completely stop your pet from shedding and producing dander, there are steps you can take to improve the air quality in your home so that you don’t have to suffer for the sake of Spot or Whiskers. Here are 5 simple things you can do to help make your home friendly to both pets and humans. Keep on top of the cleaning. Let’s get the most labor-intensive tip out of the way first. If you or someone else in your household has asthma or pet allergies, it’s essential that you clean your home on a regular basis. Use a vacuum with a high-efficiency particulate air filter (HEPA) or a double bag, because any other type of vacuum won’t effectively pick up pet dander. You’ll also want to dust and wipe down surfaces in the rooms that your pet has access to. If you’re worried that cleaning will set off your allergies, wear a dust mask over your mouth and nose. Make the bedroom a pet-free zone. It may be nice to curl up on the bed with your beloved pet at the end of a long day, but if they’ve been triggering allergies or asthma attacks, you need to reserve the bedroom as a human-only zone. After all, the average person spends roughly 1/3 of their time in bed, and you don’t want to spend 1/3 of your life lying awake and sniffling. Take the brushing outside. Your pet needs to be regularly brushed, or else they’ll end up shedding even more as they walk around your home. Take your pet outside and brush off all loose, dead hair; they’ll feel better and you’ll be much more comfortable. Give your pet a bath. Sure, bathing a squirming pet might not be the most fun weekend activity, but studies have shown that washing your dog twice a week can reduce allergen levels by a whopping 85%. (Note: Similar studies have shown mixed results for cats, so if your feline isn’t a fan of water, you may have better luck sticking with brushing.)To get your dog to be more cooperative during bath time, try taking her for a long walk first, then gradually ease her into the bath by wetting her down with a gentle stream of water. Bring in the humidifier. Humidifiers aren’t just good for dry rooms; they’re also great for air purification. A humidifier like the Venta Airwasher will draw in water and airborne particles like dust and pollen, collecting those particles on the bottom of its lower housing unit while the water evaporates. All you have to do is rinse or wipe off that lower housing unit every couple of weeks. Following the above steps can help make your home a happier and healthier environment for everyone who lives there, humans and animals alike. Don’t continue suffering through allergies or asthma—start getting rid of that pet hair and dander as soon as possible. Juliana Weiss-Roessler runs Weiss-Roessler Writing with her husband Josh. Together, they offer press releases, blogging, website copy, and other writing services to small and mid-sized businesses. Her writing has been featured on high-traffic websites, such as Yahoo.com, and in major publications, such as PARADE and People. Along with her husband, Juliana lives in Austin, TX, with their two tiny-but-rambunctious dogs and one tiny-but-rambunctious baby boy. Learn more on www.WeissRoessler.com, or follow her on Twitter, Google+, and Facebook.