Got Pets? Here’s Help Deciding Which Air Purifier Is Best for Pet Dander

There are so many air purifiers out there to choose from. You may be asking that very question – which air purifier is best for pet dander?

I’ll cover some basic information you need to know about pet allergies and show you some of the best air purifiers for your money to relieve pet dander problems, along with some brief reviews to help you decide.

Infographic – Pet allergies and pet dander facts

Infographic image for pet dander and air purifier information

What is pet dander?

Image note about pet allergies
Pet dander is actually made up of skin flakes shed by pets. These, in turn, cause an allergic reaction in humans. It’s carried by the fur of pets and is also distributed by the air around you.

Pet dander, just like human skin cells we all shed, is what causes dust mites to thrive. This is another major source of allergies you’ll have to worry about! So, in fact, reducing pet dander helps you in more ways than you may have realized.

Another fact: Although cats are found in fewer homes than dogs they account for more allergies when compared to dogs.

Also, male cats produce less allergen material than female cats. Interestingly, enough, older animals have been shown to actually produce more dander skin shedding than younger pets.

Facts & myths about pet allergies

Myth: A common belief is that when you begin feeling the symptoms of pet allergies (red or puffy/itchy eyes, sneezing, itchy feeling, and more) it’s because of pet hair around you & circulating in the air.

Truth: Pet allergies are not caused by pet hair but their skin secretions (from pet dander) as well as their saliva to a lesser extent. However, pet hair can be undesirable and somewhat irritating to a degree, too.[/infobox]

Dander is actually an informal name used to describe material that is shed from the body of animals, including humans, which have feathers, hair, or fur. Think of it as dandruff but on a lesser level.

Myth: Some breeds of pets product cause fewer allergies than others

Truth: Breeds with shorter fur may carry few allergens than other breeds, but the fur is not the primary cause of allergies. Short-haired breeds still contribute to allergies just as much as other breeds. There is no such thing as a non-allergenic dog or cat!

Note: While it’s true that no animals are completely hypoallergenic (meaning they don’t cause allergies) the amount of hair they produce can vary. For example, there are a number of dog breeds that don’t shed much or at all and can reduce the amount of pet hair in your home.

Why pet dander is hard to deal with

Image of pet allergens and skin up close

A microscopic image of pet dander and organic proteins produced by a pet that triggers allergies in humans.

Pet dander is microscopic and can be moved around your home via house dust and even provides food for dust mites which feed off of skin particles leaving the bodies of human and animals. Even worse, when airborne dander can enter the open passages in your body like your nose, throat, and lungs causing allergies and in some cases more severe reactions due to the proteins found in the skin animals shed.

It also builds upon different surfaces and over time becomes a problem that never goes away and only gets worse. Don’t underestimate how hard it can be to deal with!

Opening a window lets in fresh air from the outside and can remove some odors and bring in clean air. The main problem with having allergens in an enclosed space is that they remain trapped there until removed.

Using an electric fan will not help and can actually trigger your allergies and disturb existing dust and pet dander causing more problems. Air fresheners do not actually remove odors and have no effect on contaminants in the air.

As allergens like pet dander and dust mite waste are incredibly small they’ll simply increase and increase until you can’t stand it anymore. The dust mite population will grow worse too since there’s so much pet dander for them to feed on.

A quality air purifier is what you need

As mentioned earlier, pet dander and other allergens are microscopic in size and permeate the air around you. The only true way to alleviate your allergies and keep your home clean and fresh is by removing the problem at its source.

HEPA filters are the answer

High efficiency particulate air (HEPA) filters are designed to provide a standardized level of filtering quality. The standard was introduced in the 1950s in the United States. Filters claiming to be “true” HEPA in quality are proven to satisfy to very strict requirements:

  • Can remove 99.97% of particles from the air passing through them
  • Are able to remove elements & substances down to 0.3 microns in size

(Note that 1 micron is 1/1,000,000 of a meter – incredibly small!)

Diagram showing HEPA filter efficiency

HEPA filters are made of very dense material and they’re extremely efficient in removing nasty air particles. They’re so efficient that out of every 10,000 particles in the air that passes through them, only about 3 will be able to escape! The remaining particulates are permanently removed from your air forever.

Because of this and when implemented in well-designed, quality products they are capable of making a huge impact on your pet dander & allergy problems. The filtering process is accomplished by pulling air through the filter where these particles are trapped permanently – leaving only fresh, pure air in the surrounding air.

A true HEPA filter addresses the source of the problem – pet dander & dust carried in the air that can come in contact with your skin and enter your breathing passageways.

Additionally, good purifiers typically come with 1st & 2nd stage filters consisting of a more coarse filter for trapping larger elements like pet hair & large dust as well as a carbon/charcoal filter stage for trapping chemical substances in the air like odors.

Why not an ionizer or ozone generator purifier?

Image of ozone generatorAn ozone generator (shown here) can potentially produce high levels of ozone that may aggravate your breathing passages. Additionally, they don’t permanently remove particles like pet dander from the air around you. I don’t recommend them for pet dander problems. Stick with a proven and reliable filter-based product instead. You’ll be glad you did!

Other purifiers marketed work by generating ozone molecules from the surrounding oxygen molecules using a principle based on high voltage. The free molecules have an atomic charge which causes them to bond with particulates in the air.

Air purifiers sold as “ionizers” create electrical charges on air molecules to attract and trap airborne particles and kill airborne germs.

The problem is that while they do produce some clean air and can remove some pet dander, dust, and so forth, they aren’t even close to the performance of a HEPA filter-based purifier.

Also, even small amounts of the ozone produced may not be suitable for those with respiratory problems as they can aggravate their symptoms.

Many low-quality foreign made ozone generators are sold as “air purifiers” and “air cleaners” but in fact, both more often than not the unsafe levels of ozone have little to no impact on your air quality.

Some people may even experience headaches too as a consequence of being around ozone.

★ The best air purifiers for pet dander ★

Our top picks at a glance

Image Product Details
sample-table__image★ Our #1 Pick! ★Winix HR900 Ultimate Pet
  • Great choice! 300 sq. ft. coverage, washable filter. 200 CADR rating!
  • Dust & odor sensors provide self-adjusting fan. PlasmaWave pollutant remover.
  • Sleep mode for ultra-quiet overnight use. Includes 12 pet filters.
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sample-table__imageLevoit PUR131
  • 322 sq. ft coverage, 3-stage HEPA. Low-noise sleep mode
  • Auto-sensing and auto-off advanced features
  • Digital display and touch controls
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sample-table__imageBest seller!GermGaurdian AC5250PT
  • 193 sq. ft. coverage for under $150. Popular and good value
  • UV-C germ killing feature. Electronic controls w/ auto timer
  • Easy operation, filter reminder, low noise design
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sample-table__imageCompact sizeHamilton Beach TrueAir
  • HEPA filter can be vacuumed for longer life
  • Works upright or on its side. Great compact, effective air cleaning.
  • Simple 3-speed control. Available in pet version and 2 colors.
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Product reviews and details

1.  Winix HR900 Ultimate Pet – Best-in-class air cleaning and fantastic features make it the best choice for pet owners.

Product image of Winix HR900 Ultimate Pet air purifier with Editors Choice badgeNEW! When it comes to keeping your home clean and fresh no matter how many pets you have, the Winix HR900 is in a class of its own. For around $200 you’ll get a lot for your money!

It’s not just full of great features the competition doesn’t offer – but one of the most advanced air filter systems money can buy. As a satisfied Winix air purifier owner, I’m happy to report they’re some of the best air purifiers I’ve tested & reviewed yet!

The HR900 offers not the usual 3 filter stages like most, but a fantastic 5 stages of purification:

  1. Pet filter screen
  2. Washable pre-filter (traps larger particles like pet hair and dust)
  3. True HEPA filter with 99.97% effective filtration down to 0.3 microns in size
  4. Advanced carbon odor control filter with solid pellets
  5. PlasmaWave stage ion pollutant cleaner

Unlike standard HEPA-based purifiers, the Winix is one of the most powerful air purifiers for dealing with pet dander & odors. It has one of the highest buyer satisfaction ratings with excellent reviews and many happy owners. 

The PlasmaWave stage is a type of air molecule device which creates charged particles that attract and bond to viruses, bacteria, chemical vapors, and odors in the air.

Got a larger room? You’re covered as the HR900 is recommended for rooms up to 300 square feet in size.

Interested in the industry-standard Clean Air Delivery Rate (CADR) performance? I’m impressed with it, as the unit has lab-tested performance:’

  • Dust: 200
  • Pollen: 220
  • Smoke: 194

That’s two times more effective air cleaning performance than many of the most commonly sold purifiers on the market today!

Filter system layout

Winix HR900 purifier filter sections diagram

The Winix HR900 uses a 5-stage filter system for excellent air cleaning performance. Not only is it a better performer, but the pre-filter and advanced odor control filter can be cleaned for extended performance. Access is really easy, too: Just open the magnetically-attached front cover and they’re easy to pull out.

One of the reasons I’ve awarded the HR900 my Editor’s Choice best buy badge isn’t just because of how well it works, but because maintenance is super easy.

Unlike the competition, the pre-filter and odor control filter can be removed and easily cleaned to keep performance high. Filters are really easy to remove, too! Just pop off the front cover (attached with a smart magnetic latch design) and pull out the pre-filter and odor control filter as needed.

Vacuum or rinse off the pre-filter and you’re done in seconds! After a heavy build-up of pet hair or dust, it’s a snap to clean and restore to 100% optimal operation.

Winix advanced odor control carbon filter promo image

Unlike most air purifiers on the market, the Advanced Odor Control (AOC) filter section is a powerful, highly effective approach to pet odor problems.

It contains real carbon pellets instead of the simple filter coating most use. Hands-down it’s one of the best money can buy – and you’ll get a lot longer life, too!

When it’s time to check, clean, and perhaps replace the filters the handy filter reminder will light so you won’t have to remember yourself.

Enhanced pet filtration included

Winix HR900 air filter features image

Left: You’ll get a generous 12 included pet filters with the Winix for enhanced pet air cleaning needs. The pet filter extends the life of the HEPA and other filters. Right: Filter access is one of the easiest I’ve ever seen! The front cover features magnetic attachment points making maintenance incredibly easy.

One of the biggest advantages isn’t just the general design, but in fact the pet-specific filters it uses. Included with the purifier are 12 pet filters that easily attach to the pre-filter.

They work as a front line defense for capturing the toughest pet by-products and extending the life of the HEPA and other filters. Once used up, just remove and replace as needed.

Great controls and features

Top view of the Winix HR900 Ultimate Pet air purifier

Top view of the HR900. Controls are easy to understand and operate. Just touch the push button electronic controls to rotate through fan speeds, turn off lighting, activate the auto-off timer, and even lock the controls in case you’ve got little kids.

Check out the excellent control features you’ll get for your money:

  • Mode selection: Sleep, Low, medium, high, Turbo, and Auto speed modes
  • PlasmaWave on/off button
  • Power on/off control
  • Auto-off timer control: Choose from 1, 4, or 8 hrs of operation
  • Child lock: When set, controls can’t be changed by little ones

Auto mode automatically changes the purifier’s fan speed based on air quality. Don’t stress – you not only won’t have to get up and fiddle with controls, but just set it can forget!

Ready for sleep? No problem? Just put it in Sleep mode or Auto for a whisper-quiet operation that won’t disturb your rest. Winix has even added a light sensor to darken the controls when the lights are off as well!

Advanced air quality sensors and automatic operation mode

Winix HR900 air purifier sensor location diagram

Included are 3 sensors for light & air quality self-adjusting operation: A light sensor, a dust sensor, and an odor sensor.

Anytime the air quality sensors detect you need more air cleaning power, the purifier automatically kicks into high gear and gracefully ramps up the fan speed until the air quality has improved.

For night-time use, the light sensor offers a smart way to switch off lighting to the display controls in order to keep it from annoying you in the dark.

Both sleep mode & and an off timer with 1, 4, and 8 hour shut off options are included, making it incredibly easy to “set and forget.” Both at bedtime and when you’re about to leave your home.

General quality and performance thoughts

For pet problems, I have to say the HR900 really impresses me. Odor control, pet dander, and pet hair filtering is excellent. It’s simply one of the best I’ve seen, yet you won’t go broke with the value you get at around only $200.

It’s a great choice for large rooms, it’s super-quiet, and I love the features. The auto-sensing mode works great and makes it a snap to use, even at bedtime. No need to touch the controls!

If you’ve got pets, it’s simply one of the best choices for the money.

  • Very high pet hair, dander, and odor performance
  • Advanced 5-stage filter design
  • High industry-standard CADR cleaning ratings
  • Very quiet operation
  • Advanced Odor Control filter uses real pellets, longer lasting
  • Works well for large rooms (300 sq. ft.)
  • Easy operation
  • True HEPA filter w/12 month life
  • Front cover uses magnetic latches
  • Washable pre-filter & odor filter
  • Filter replacement reminder
  • Senses both odors and dust/dander
  • Child lock feature
  • Sleep mode
  • Auto mode adjusts operational level based on air quality
  • 1, 4, 8 hr auto-off timer
  • 3 fans speeds plus Turbo (high speed) mode for quick & maximum air quality on demand
  • Dims control lighting automatically
  • Includes 12 pet filters
  • PlasmaWave technology boost air cleaning for pollutants
  • 2 year warranty
  • Filter cost is somewhat higher than competitors
  • Digital display not provided
  • No additional color or style options
  • Not for smaller budgets
  • May be more than some need for smaller rooms & small pets
  • No remote control feature
  • No smartphone connectivity

Got pets and want a purifier you can count on? Look no further. I can confidently say the Winix HR900 is one of the best purifiers for pet dander I’ve had the pleasure to get my hands on.

I love it! Find out now why it's one of the most powerful and advanced air purifiers you'll find at Amazon.

2. Levoit LV-PUR131 – A great purifier and an excellent value.

Levoit LV-PUR131 side front image

For less money than the Winix AC9500, the Levoit actually outperforms the Winix in room size coverage and features most of the same great features. It doesn’t include a remote control or additional germ killing features, however.

Levoit air purifiers are well-regarded and feature great design & a modern appearance too. The LV-PUR131 is no different. Electronic controls are simple to use (similar to its smaller sibling the LV-H132) and it includes a sharp-looking LCD display.

Levoit LV-PUR131 control panel featuresA lovely auto-off timer function with very flexible usage is built in: simply set the timer to shut off anywhere from 1 to 12 hours of operation.

An auto mode allows the unit to operate on demand as the air’s cleanliness drops and adjusts the fan speed automatically. 3 filtration stages remove pet dander and odors with a true HEPA filter for the best possible air purification for your money.

Filters are typically replaced about every 6 months and the replacement reminder will let you know when it’s time to check the filter. Expect to pay around $35 for a replacement, which is still relatively economical when compared to the Winix WAC9500 filter replacement cost which is nearly 60% more expensive.

Levoit LV-PUR131 air purifier features diagram

A quiet sleep mode ensures that you’re not disturbed by noise as it provides a very low level of noise during operation. As it’s only about 11.2 lbs in weight and 14.5 x 7.2 x 18.5 inches in size, the PUR131 provides more square feet coverage (322 square feet) than the WAC9500 but can be placed on many countertops, shelves, and desks if needed.

A 2 year warranty is provided.

  • More room coverage for the money (322 sq ft)
  • Auto-sensing mode can be set to adjust fan speed based on air quality demands
  • Sleep mode for very quiet operation
  • Electronic, simple controls
  • LCD display for auto-off timer
  • Auto-off feature is very flexible: set anywhere from 1 to 12 hours for “set and forget” operation
  • Great pet dander filtering with true HEPA filter and fine 1st stage filter; carbon filter removes pet odors
  • Excellent overall reviews and customer satisfaction
  • Lower weight and smaller size than the WAC9500 makes it suitable for use in more places
  • 2 year warranty
  • Nice, modern appearance
  • No remote control
  • Auto-sensing mode does not indicate air quality levels like the Winix WAC9500
  • No night light
  • No 5-stage filtering like the Winix WAC9500
  • Replacement filters aren’t the cheapest (near $35 or so)
  • Warranty is shorter than some competitors

As it’s a fantastic compromise between cost, room size coverage, features, and performance it’s a purifier you can’t go wrong with. Not only that, but it's a #1 best seller with wonderful reviews!

3.  GermGuardian AC5250PT with Pet Pure treatment, germ killer, and auto-timer. A great all-around pet purifier!

GermGuardian AC5250PT air purifier left featured image

The GermGuardian AC5250PT is a 28″ tall more advanced version of its popular sibling the smaller AC4825. Additionally it’s easy to use and features the same great build quality that has made the company’s air purifiers an industry standard.

A 3-in-1 filter assembly includes a true HEPA filter, a pre-filter, and a carbon filter to trap odors as well. The pre-filter is excellent for removing pet hair that carries allergy-causing dander as well. A Pet Pure anti-microbial agent is added to the filter for even more protection against mold, mildew, and odor-causing bacteria your pets produce.

The UV-C feature is an optional germ-killing bonus: when switched on, it safely bombards airborne microbes that pass through and render them inactive. It’s a great feature you won’t find on many competitors’ products.

GermGuardian AC5250PT control panel top image

The AC5250PT’s control panel is high-tech easy to read, but still simple to operate. For one thing, buttons are well-labeled and a breeze to understand. The color display readout shows the current fan speed and timer status along with other features at a glance.

The AC5250PT’s control panel is straightforward and features a nice status display with fan speed, UV germ killer on/off, and timer countdown. Electronic push button controls round out a nicely built and great-performing product you’ll be glad to own.

  • 5-speed fan control (vs. 3 of many competitors)
  • Great for pet odors and dander
  • Pet Pure anti-microbial filter coating
  • Electronic touch controls & status display
  • 1-8 hour self-off timer
  • UV-C germ killing technology
  • Ozone-free operation
  • 125+ CADR rating (Clean Air Delivery Rate)
  • Carrying handle area on rear
  • Easy filter replacement
  • 193 sq. feet coverage for medium to large rooms
  • Quiet fan speed operation on low settings
  • Popular and proven quality – GermGuardian is a market leader
  • Good value for its room coverage and features
  • 5-year limited warranty
  • Controls are less simple than the AC4825 and similar models
  • 28″ height requires a bit more space
  • Self timer is adjustable using 1-8 hours only, not minutes
  • No auto-sensing fan feature

If you’re looking for relief from not just pet dander but odors too, it’s an excellent choice. Go have a look for yourself and find out why it's a great value and was awarded the Amazon's Choice label.

4.  Hamilton Beach TrueAir Ultra – Affordable, compact, and quiet pet cleaning.

Hamilton Beach TrueAir purifier front featured imageFor those with a budget, the Hamilton Beach TrueAir represents a great buy. It’s well suited for desktops, shelves, and other convenient places. It’s a great choice if you have smaller pet dander problems.

It is simple to operate, using a rotary 3-speed fan switch yet still remains very quiet during operation unlike other lower-priced purifiers on the market. Even more beneficial is that the HEPA-grade filter is permanent and can be cleaned off for reuse – no replacement filters to buy!

Note that the pet-specialized carbon filter does need replacement, but a 3-pack of those costs less than $15, so it is still a very economical model.

Hamilton Beach TrueAir air purifier top

It’s also small in size, measuring only 8.5 x 13.5″ yet provides coverage of up 140 square feet, so it is suitable for small rooms & offices. Due to its smart design, it can be turned on its side for use as well.

The included zeolite carbon filters are specially designed for pet odors while the HEPA filter removes pet dander from the air down to 3 microns in size (which is sufficient for all pet dander, dust mite allergens, dust, and much more).

Hamilton Beach TrueAir purifier features image

The TrueAir’s filter is easy to clean for extended use (right). The purifier works great for a budget solution for pet issues. It’s great for small areas as well as it can be used both on its side or upright.

For the best cleaning & most expedient cleaning it can be set on high speed, medium for all-day cleaning, and low speed for the lowest noise possible.

  • HEPA filter is very effective at removing pet dander in small rooms
  • Main (HEPA) filter can be vacuumed and reused – low maintenance costs
  • Charcoal filters for pet odor are inexpensive (near $15)
  • Can be used on its side for even more convenient locations
  • Quiet operation
  • Nice design
  • Simple 3-speed operation control
  • Limited room size coverage
  • No filter replacement reminder for pet odor filters
  • No sleep or auto-shut off mode

Although a lower-priced model, it’s an excellent choice. I recommend you go check out the many happy buyer reviews today.

Our top recommended air purifier for pet dander

Product image of Winix HR900 Ultimate Pet air purifier with Editors Choice badgeFor near $200, you simply can’t beat the Winix HR900. It works great, is featured-packed, and the air cleaning performance is excellent!

So much so that because of this (and the all-around value you get) it earned my Editor’s choice award. In my opinion, it’s the best choice for pet dander in medium to larger sized rooms. Be sure to head over and see the excellent reviews now at Amazon.

Grant Williams

About the author

Grant is a professional engineer by trade and has experience with both maintenance and do-it-yourself home projects. He enjoys sharing his expertise & ideas with others to help them improve their comfort and quality of life. Read more »

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