The Asthma Center estimates that between 3 to 10 percent of Americans are allergic to pets. The symptoms can range from mild sneezing to severe asthma. The odds are good that at some point, you will invite someone over to your home - a date, a beloved relative, or a colleague - who is allergic to your pet. There are things that you, as a good host, can do to alleviate their distress. People are twice as likely to be allergic to cats as they are to dogs, according to The Asthma Center, but these two popular pets are not the only ones that can cause allergy symptoms. Whether you have a dog, cat, Guinea pig or gerbil, it is your responsibility to inform a potential guest when you extend the invitation that you have pets. Waiting until they are standing at your threshold is too late, and could potentially ruin the day for everyone. With advance notice, guests can make an informed decision before accepting. They can also bring along or pre-medicate with appropriate allergy medications prescribed by their doctor. In anticipation of their arrival, there is still plenty that you can do to help reduce the irritants in your home. Vacuuming up visible fur should be a top priority before guests come, but it is a misconception that people are allergic to pet fur. It is actually animal proteins found on their skin and in their saliva and urine that cause the allergic reaction. Dander - the dead skin which you can't see but is continuously shed - is a particularly effective tool for circulating that protein around your home. In addition to being quite small, dander is also sticky, and removal is not as simple as sweeping it up. Using a vacuum with a microfiltration bag or a HEPA filter (designed to target very small pollutants and particles) will help keep dander from being circulated back into the air when you vacuum. Any significant source of animal allergens (rugs, litter boxes, upholstered furniture, drapes) should be removed from the direct path of air intake vents as well. Also, vacuums generally fail to clean effectively down at the very base of rugs and carpets, where the bulk of allergens settle, so try to entertain in a room with a wood or tile floor whenever possible. Provide wood or other non-upholstered chairs for your guest to use. Limiting your guests' direct contact with dander will help reduce the amount they take out with them when they leave, potentially spreading it to their car and home. For long-term tools to reduce animal allergens if a member of your household is affected, The Mayo Clinic offers a number of tips. For starters, groom your pet frequently. You can also establish a pet-free zone in the home. Additionally, try to remove dander-attracting furnishings: -replace carpets with wood or tile floor -instead of fabric furniture, use vinyl, leather or wood -replace cloth drapes with wood or plastic blinds -invest in high-efficiency filters Finally - if it is a safe and feasible option - keep your pet outside.