Can Children with Asthma Keep Pets?

kid and pet 178496846The presence of some pets in the home can trigger asthma attacks in children. While many believe pets’ fur is the culprit, it is actually the allergens such as dust and proteins found in pets’ dander, saliva, dead-skin flakes, urine and feathers that can cause a reaction.

These allergens and proteins are airborne-they can enter the body by way of the mouth or nose. When they are combined with antibodies (a substance that the body recognizes as foreign) and inhaled into the lungs, they can trigger the body’s defense mechanisms, causing inflammation and eventually restricting air flow.

It is recommended that the easiest way to reduce the hazards of pet dander and allergens in the home is to relocate the animal. For some, this decision can be difficult as pets often become members of the family. If the option of relocating the animal is not likely, then the following solutions should be considered.

  • Minimizing contact by keeping your pet outdoors as much as possible or prohibiting the animal from the bedroom of the person with asthma.
  • Using vacuums with HEPA filters to frequently vacuum surfaces where dander can accumulate.
  • Wash pets often and groom them outside the home.
  • Keep animals off surfaces such as the couch, which collects pet dander.
  • Dust frequently. It is best to dust when the person with asthma is not home.
  • Clean bird and rodent cages thoroughly at least once a week.
  • Purchase air cleaners with HEPA filters.
  • Keep children away from litter boxes or places designated for the animal to eliminate waste.
  • Change carpeted floors to hard wood floors.

It is highly advised that you consult a physician to confirm that it is okay to keep your pet and to explore the best ways to reduce the risks of triggering an asthma attack.  Your doctor may be able to develop a treatment plan, which can include allergy shots, sprays or pills to help manage symptoms.

All content of this newsletter is intended for general information purposes only and is not intended or implied to be a substitute for professional medical advice, diagnosis or treatment. Please consult a medical professional before adopting any of the suggestions on this page. You must never disregard professional medical advice or delay seeking medical treatment based upon any content of this newsletter. PROMPTLY CONSULT YOUR PHYSICIAN OR CALL 911 IF YOU BELIEVE YOU HAVE A MEDICAL EMERGENCY.