When Pet Allergies Trigger Asthma

Sometimes your beloved pet can be the reason why you have respiratory problems. Now what? Do you want to keep your pet or do you want to breathe better? Thankfully, you may not have to make that choice after all. It's possible for your pet to co-exist in the same home without having your asthma kick in.

The Facts about Pet Allergies and Asthma

About 30 percent of asthmatics find that animals trigger their asthma. Cats are more commonly to blame than dogs, but both pets can cause an allergic reaction that leads to worsened of asthma.

Surprisingly, it isn't the pet's fur itself that sets off the reaction. Pet allergies and asthma are caused by the animal dander, saliva, and urine. This means that when your pet licks himself, the saliva sticks to his fur and often, it also catches other allergens that settle there, such as mold, pollen, and dust mites. As a result, even "hypoallergenic" dogs can cause pet allergies and asthma.

What You Can Do

If you've seen your allergist and confirmed that your pet is triggering your asthma, but you can't bear to give your animal away, try some of these easy steps:

  • Keep your pet out of your bedroom and away from upholstered furniture.
  • Remove carpeting. Use only throw rugs that can be washed frequently.
  • Thoroughly scrub your walls and floors a few times a week and dust just as often.
  • Vacuum every few days, but wear a mask to avoid breathing in allergens that you stir up in the process.
  • Block heat vents with a cheesecloth or other material to keep allergens from spreading through the air.
  • Run an air cleaner or filter for a minimum of four hours a day to help clean the air.
  • Wash hands after touching your pet and ask others to do the same.
  • Bathe your pet weekly.
  • Ask a family member to brush your pet outdoors to remove allergens.
  • Take allergy medications to control symptoms.
  • Consider allergy shots or immunotherapy. It can take a while to work, but can ultimately build up your tolerance.

When All Else Fails

If none of these methods makes you feel better and you decide to relocate your pet to a new home, don't expect your symptoms to go away immediately. Some people find it takes up to six months for the allergens already in their rooms to lessen.


Asthma and Allergy Foundation of America (AAFA)


Environmental Protection Agency (EPA)



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