Some people may be sensitive to proteins (allergens) found in their pets’ dander, skin flakes and saliva, which could cause their immune system to overreact, leading to an allergic reaction, when they touch or inhale these allergens. Asthma attacks could also be triggered by house dust, pollen, spores and other outdoor allergens that collect in the pet’s fur.

Some owners may therefore opt to give up their pets after finding out a family member suffers from asthma. If you suspect your pet is the cause of an asthma attack in your household and are considering to remove it from your home, we recommend that the asthma sufferer goes for an allergy test to confirm your suspicions, as he or she may be reacting to something else unrelated to the animal.

Asthmatics who are sensitive to animal dander, but still want to keep a pet dog or cat, can follow these steps to reduce their contact with allergens:

  • Keep your house clean and well-ventilated.
  • Wash walls and floors periodically.
  • Vacuum your house regularly. Opt for vacuum cleaners containing a High Efficiency Particulate Arresting (HEPA) filter, which can capture airborne allergens.
  • Use HEPA filters in your bedroom.
  • Place allergen-proof covers over mattresses and pillows. Blankets and sheets should be washed in hot water every week.
  • Keep your pet out of the bedroom. This measure reduces your exposure to dander.
  • Bathe your dog, or wipe down your cat with a damp cloth or wet wipe, weekly to remove the dander that accumulates on your pet’s fur.
  • Have a non-asthmatic family member brush your pet outdoors regularly.
  • Wash your hands after handling your pet.
  • Wear a mask when changing cat litter.