Pets & Other Animals
Many types of animals – both pets you have at home and animals you may encounter outside – have been shown to trigger airway inflammation in people who are allergic. Unfortunately, pets can make asthma worse if you’re allergic to them. Animals that can act as asthma triggers include:
- Gerbils and hamsters
- Mice, rats and guinea pigs
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:
- Dander (particles of skin)
- 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.
Up to 50% of children with asthma have symptoms triggered by pets. If you have a pet allergy consider finding a new, loving home for the pet. If you decide to keep the pet even though you are allergic, you may 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 symptoms.
Managing Asthma With Pets
We realize that for some people removing your pet may not be an option. 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 throughout your home, as they trap allergens like fur and dander and can make allergies worse.
- Create no-pet zones: Keep your bedroom off limits to your pets, as well as any carpeted spaces. Try to keep your pets restricted to areas with hardwood floors and keep them off furniture and surfaces that could trap in allergens.
- Clean the house frequently using a vacuum equipped with a high-efficiency particular air (HEPA) filter or a central vacuum system with an outdoor exhaust. (When cleaning avoid scented cleaning supplies as they can act as asthma triggers.)
- Encase your mattress and pillows in special allergen-proof covers. You can learn about our Asthma & Allergy Friendly Certified Products here.
- Use a HEPA air cleaner in the bedroom.
When it comes to living with asthma and pets, it’s also important to follow the asthma basics to help minimize asthma symptoms and the possiblity of an attack.
- Take your controller medication as prescribed by your doctor to keep your asthma under control and decrease your chances of having flare-ups
- Carry your reliever medication with you at all times, especially if you are snuggling with your pet, or are in areas with lots of allergic triggers
- Follow your Asthma Action Plan
- Know what to do in case of an asthma attack
Indoor Asthma Triggers
Many people are surprised just how many asthma triggers are within their home. By educating yourself about indoor triggers, you’ll discover simple ways to reduce their levels.
Asthma & Allergy HelpLine
Do you have questions about asthma? Contact our free helpline service to be connected with a Certified Respiratory Educator who can provide you with personalized support.
Outdoor Asthma Triggers
When you’re outdoors, you have less control over the asthma triggers you encounter. Still, there are things you can do to help reduce you exposure to outdoor triggers.