Pets & Asthma: Sort Out the Myths From the Facts

  • In this post, I want to take a look at some common beliefs people have in regards to asthma in children and pets.


    If your child is diagnosed with asthma, it's time to get rid of the family pet.


    Myth. While pet dander and saliva can be a trigger for asthma and allergies, especially with cats, getting rid of your pets is not necessarily going to prevent your child from having asthma symptoms in the future. One problem is that the dander and allergens may remain in your home for a long time after the pet is gone. However, you can speed the removal of allergens by getting rid of carpeting and upholstered furniture and buying new bedding. Still, there are alternatives to losing a treasured member of the family. Instead of getting rid of your pet, try keeping him out of your child's bedroom and main living areas. Washing the pet weekly can help too.

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    You just need to have the right breed of cat or dog to avoid asthma symptoms in your child. For example, short-haired cats are better than long-haired cats.


    Myth. There is no compelling evidence that any particular breed of cat or dog is less allergenic than any other. The length of the pet's hair is not important because it is not the hair that your child is allergic to; rather, it is the small dead flakes of skin, called pet dander, that are the trigger.


    Using a HEPA air cleaner and / or vacuum will help reduce airborne pet allergens.


    Fact. A HEPA filter (short for high-efficiency particulate air filter) will remove some allergens from the environment, including dust mites, pollen, and mold spores. And that can mean less frequent and severe asthma symptoms. Your best bet, though, is to keep the pet off the furniture and out of the bedroom and living room.

Published On: June 11, 2007