Dr.Kamini Silvarajan MD/AAAM

Editorial Board: Dr.Kamini Silvarajan MD/AAAM

Pet Dander Asthma

allergy pets dander

This article is a continuation follow-up of the series of articles on Avoiding Your Asthma Triggers.

Can animal dander (skin flakes in an animal’s fur or hair)worsen your asthma? As a matter of fact YES!, all furry and feathered animals produce animal dander and so put asthmatics at increased risk of worsening asthma if they are especially sensitive.

Animal Dander

Commonly it’s thought that the hair from pets that causes the allergic cascade leading to asthma symptoms and that short haired animals are less allergic for asthmatics, both are myths (an exaggerated or idealized conception ). In fact, it is the dander or the proteins in skin flakes, urine, feces ( waste product from an animal’s digestive tract ), saliva and hair that trigger your asthma symptoms.

These proteins are very small particles that are carried through the air and can come to land on a body part that comes into contact with your nose or mouth or the particles can be directly inhaled into the lung. You may notice symptoms immediately or may not develop them for eight to twelve hours.

Pets all shed a certain amount of allergen producing dander per week. In this sense, there are no hypoallergenic (containing fewer allergens) pets, but some produce less allergen than others and may be a better choice if you really want a pet.

Pet Dander And Asthma

Decreasing Your Dander Exposure To Improve Your Asthma

Decrease Of Animal Dander Exposure

Removing your pet from the home and avoiding contact with the pet is the most effective way to decrease exposure to animal dander. A trial removal is not recommended as it may take as many as twenty weeks following removal for allergen levels to fall to levels similar to those of homes without pets. If you do remove the pet from the home, make sure you thoroughly clean all bedding products, floors, carpets and other surfaces where dander may have collected.

If pet removal is going to produce depression, crying and gnashing of teeth for you or your child, making the pet an outside only animal is a partial solution, but will not fully decrease your exposure to animal dander. If that is also too restrictive, consider the following suggestions:-
  1. Keep the pet out of bedrooms and other place where you or your child spends a lot of time
  2. Consider bathing the animal weekly to reduce allergen exposure, but realize this may increase dander exposure if the allergic person is doing the washing
  3. Do not have the allergic person clean the animal’s cage, living space or litter box
  4. Consider hardwood, tile or linoleum flooring as these products do not retain allergens like carpeting
  5. HEPA* clean air filters may reduce your allergen exposure
  6. Keep pets away from fabric covered furniture, carpets and stuffed toys as much as possible.
  7. Unfortunately, frequent vacuuming does not decrease dander exposure, but using a HEPA* vacuum filter or double bag may decrease exposure if you must vacuum.
  8. Turtles
  9. Hermit crabs
  10. Aquarium fish etc.etc.

HEPA*stands for High Efficiency Particulate Arrestor, used to reduce the number of contaminants in indoor air. A HEPA filter will arrest or stop 99.97% of all particles .3 microns or larger.

If you already know you have allergy asthma symptoms or want to make sure you or your child will not develop symptoms from a particular pet,consider animals that typically do not cause or worsen allergies like:-

Despite many claims otherwise, veterinarians urge that there no completely hypoallergenic pets.

(If you are allergic to animals, be sure to consult a medical professional before procuring a pet that may induce an allergy attack.) Prevention is better than cure for asthma treatment.