What steps can pet owners take to minimise the impact of animals on asthma symptoms?
As much as we love them, our furry and feathered friends are common triggers for asthma symptoms.1 Here are some important steps to minimise the impact of pets on your daily life.
Pet allergies are common2 – up to 20% of the world’s population is allergic to cats or dogs alone.2 For people with asthma, pet allergies can be a substantial thorn in the side of what would otherwise be a happy relationship.
Allergic reactions to pets are actually reactions to a number of different elements, including hair proteins, urine, skin particles, faeces and saliva.2 These allergy-inducing particles can increase inflammation of lung tissue3 and lead to symptoms we associate with asthma, namely wheezing, chest tightness, shortness of breath, and asthma attacks.1
The concentrations of an allergen that causes a reaction can vary greatly from person-to-person.4 But, when it comes to asthma, it’s always best to stay on the safe side. Read on to see how you can combat the impact of pet allergies on your daily life, and your relationship with your animal companion.
MINIMISING THE IMPACT OF YOUR PETS ON YOUR ASTHMA
Whilst avoiding exposure to pets is the most effective way to avoid triggering asthma symptoms, there are a number of techniques which allow asthma patients to continue enjoying life with their animal companions:5
ASK YOUR DOCTOR ABOUT ALLERGY control
Various strategies can help with the symptoms of allergic reactions. Your doctor may be able to prescribe medication or suggest behavioural changes to help, or put you in contact with an allergist or immunologist.
BATHE YOUR PET MORE REGULARLY
Pet dander is made up of microscopic skin cells shed by pets and can stay in the air for a long time.3 Frequently bathing your pet could help reduce the presence of dander in your home.1
PURCHASE AN AIR FILTER
HEPA (High Efficiency Particulate Air) air filters can help reduce pet dander exposure and have been shown to be particularly effective when used to filter air in single rooms.6
LIMIT WHERE YOUR PET CAN GO IN YOUR HOUSE
As simple as it might sound, limiting where your pet can go in your house can help.5 Place their furniture in a particular part of the home – ideally a room without carpets – and keep them out of your bedroom.5
REGULARLY CLEAN YOUR FLOORS
Your pets will likely spend most of the time on your floors, and as such, flooring can be a hotbed of pet allergens.1 Make sure you clean your floor often, and steam clean carpets to help reduce the amount of pet allergens they retain.1 Changing from carpet to wood flooring or vinyl may also help.3
For many of us, the companionship we have with our pets is sacred, and when something gets in the way of that, it can be tough to deal with. But by following the tips above, you can keep a happy and healthy relationship with your pets, without needing to worry about your asthma.
Is your asthma well controlled?
If you’re concerned about your asthma, speak to your doctor about daily treatment. The asthma control test (ACT) is a quick way to see how asthma symptoms are affecting your everyday life. Click on the link below to get the results in seconds – and be sure to share them with your doctor.
- Healthline. Can you own a pet if you have allergic asthma? Available at: https://www.healthline.com/health/allergic-asthma/pets-allergic-asthma-risk. Accessed February 2022.
- Chan SK, et al. Allergy Asthma Immunol Res 2018;10(2):97–105.
- British Lung Foundation. Allergy triggers in your home. Available at: https://www.blf.org.uk/support-for-you/indoor-air-pollution/allergies-in-your-home. Accessed February 2022.
- American Lung Association. Pet dander. Available at: https://www.lung.org/clean-air/at-home/indoor-air-pollutants/pet-dander. Accessed February 2022.
- Asthma UK. Animals, pets and asthma. Available at: https://www.asthma.org.uk/advice/triggers/animals-and-pets/. Accessed February 2022.
- Sublett JL. Curr Allergy Asthma Rep 2011;11(5):395–402.