Coughing, shortness or difficulty in breathing, whistling while breathing, and tightness in the chest are the most common symptoms of asthma. Not only is the condition uncomfortable, but it can also be fatal if it isn’t managed properly. According to AAAAI, in the US alone, one out of 12 adults has asthma; and in 2015 3,615 deaths were attributed to the disease.
Pets and Asthma 101
Contrary to popular belief, it isn’t necessarily the fur that may trigger an asthma attack. Although owning certain pets can indeed lessen the chances of suffering from the symptoms, it does not guarantee 100-percent immunity. This is because the dander of your pets, of all warm-blooded animals to be more specific, causes the reaction. Additionally, the protein (FEL-D1) that’s in a cat’s saliva can also trigger an attack.
Generally, there are two major triggers of asthma—exercise and exposure to allergens. Allergens can come from dust, fumes, and even pets! This can be an issue if you needed to live in (or even visit) a house with pets—let’s say your fiancé cannot let go of his childhood best friend or your new roommate brought her Chihuahua in the dorm.
Decreasing the Risk of Asthma Attack
Check your environment. More often than not, centralized air-conditioning units are not advisable for asthmatic pet owners, as dander and other allergens can easily spread through the vents and ducts. The best option is to utilize portable cooling machines. If this is too expensive or not possible due to the size of the room, closing off the vents can help.
Bathe pets regularly to eliminate the dander that is sloughing off from them. It is best to bathe them in a well-ventilated area. There are certain shampoos and even sprays that can reduce dander. It may be a little expensive, but the quality time you can spend with your pup is worth it.
If you suffer from asthma, regular vacuuming and dusting in your home is a must. On top of that, you should wipe surfaces and shelves on a regular basis because animal hair and dander can be easily carried by air. As an additional precaution, refrain from using curtains if possible, since fur and dust can easily pool there. You may use window blinds and shades instead.
Also, make sure to do the laundry regularly—not just your clothes, but the heavy ones such as bed sheets, sofa set covers, curtains, and towels, too. Be sure to vacuum your car as well, and don’t forget to wash the seats, especially if you frequently travel with your pets.
Try to keep the dog out of your bedroom when possible. It is also best to limit his stay inside your vehicle. This might be challenging, especially if your pets were not trained early on, but doing so will lessen your exposure to allergens throughout the day.
Asthma has no cure. However, pet hospital experts can give professional advice for handling the situation successfully. Also, as a general practice, do not forget to set scheduled visits with your trusted veterinarian.
The cause of allergy is present in all warm-blooded animals, but some dog breeds produce fewer allergens. A few breeds that are typically considered hypoallergenic include the poodle, the hairless Chinese crested, the Maltese, the bichon frise, and the Italian greyhound, to name a few. So you do not necessarily have to limit yourself if you have lots of love to give and really want to have a canine companion.
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