The Asthma Society of Canada
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About Asthma
Taking Control
Exercise & Sports
Pets & Other Animals
Air Pollution & Outdoor Triggers
Indoor Triggers - Home & Work

Pets & Other Animals

Unfortunately, pets can make asthma worse if you're allergic to them. Animals that can act as asthma triggers include:

  • Cats
  • Dogs
  • Gerbils and hamsters
  • Rabbits
  • Mice, rats and guinea pigs
  • Birds
  • Horses

Often, people think that fur or feathers are what trigger symptoms in people with asthma. But in fact, if you have asthma, you could be sensitive to an animal's:

  • Dander (particles of skin)
  • Saliva
  • Oil secretions
  • Urine or feces

If you have an animal in your home and your family doctor or allergist determines that it is a trigger for your symptoms, it is highly recommended that you remove the animal from your home. Removal of a pet from the home is the single most effective environmental avoidance strategy for optimal asthma control.

If you decide to keep the pet even though you are allergic, you will be increasing the severity of your asthma over time. There is no such thing as an allergy-free dog or cat. All furred animals shed dander. Reducing your exposure to pet allergens is the most effective way to help your asthma.

If you are unable to remove the pet from the home, try these things to minimize exposure:

  • If the animal is a cat or a dog, have someone else wash it twice a week.
  • Remove carpeting in the home (especially in the bedroom).
  • Clean the house (and especially your bedroom) frequently using a vacuum equipped with a high-efficiency particular air (HEPA) filter or a central vacuum system with an outdoor exhaust.
  • Encase your mattress and pillows in special allergen-proof covers.
  • Do not allow the animal in your bedroom. Keep it off upholstered furniture, and away from carpets and other soft surfaces where allergens can accumulate.
  • Use a HEPA air cleaner in the bedroom.

Keep Fit!

Think asthma and exercise don't mix? Think again! Learn how to stay in tip-top shape while keeping your asthma symptoms under control.

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Do You Know Your Triggers?

Learn what things can cause asthma symptoms - and how you can avoid them. Plus, find out why, despite what you might think, you could be more affected by indoor triggers than outdoor triggers. For more information, read the Asthma Basics Booklet #2: Triggers

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DISCLAIMER: Content on this website is for information purposes only andnot a substitute for a qualified medical professional.
For specific information treatment and management your asthma and/or potential side effects of medications and
treatment, please consult your physician.