Get Info on How Pet Dander Can Affect Your Asthma (2022)

Animal dander is a common trigger for asthma symptoms from wheezing, chest tightness, and shortness of breath to full-blown asthma attacks. Both furry and feathered animals produce dander, which is made up of proteins from hair, skin flakes, urine, feces, and saliva.

Since dander is shed from an animal's body, you can be exposed to it without even touching an animal. All you have to do is come in contact with something an animal has slept on, played with, or otherwise come in contact with themselves.

Dogs and cats are the animals that most commonly induce symptoms of allergic asthma due to their shedding of dander.

Get Info on How Pet Dander Can Affect Your Asthma (1)

Symptoms of Reactions to Dander

If you have asthma, you can develop a variety of respiratory effects in response to animal dander. You may notice symptoms immediately after exposure or you may begin to develop the effects hours afterward.

Often, animal dander can cause allergy symptoms rather than typical symptoms of asthma, including:

  • Runny and stuffy nose
  • Scratchy throat
  • Watery, itchy, red eyes
  • A rash or irritated skin

When traditional asthma symptoms occur in response to animal dander exposure, they can include:

(Video) How to Control Allergies & Asthma Caused by Cats

  • Chest tightness
  • Cough
  • Wheezing
  • Shortness of breath

Exposure to higher amounts of animal dander is associated with more severe symptoms and a higher risk of asthma attacks.

When you have an asthma attack, you can also experience lightheadedness or even loss of consciousness due to decreased oxygen levels, especially if your respiratory distress isn't treated promptly.

Over time, recurrent asthma symptoms and asthma attacks will damage your lungs, resulting in difficulty breathing even in the absence of triggers.

Causes

Dander proteins are particles that are carried through the air. These may be present whether an animal is in the same room with you or not.

You can inhale them through your nose or mouth, or they can get into your lungs if you touch them and then touch your nose or mouth. As the particles are so small, you may not even realize you're around them until you have a reaction.

Exposure to pet dander can trigger symptoms in people who have asthma, but pets and dander don't cause asthma to develop.

Rather, animal dander contains endotoxins, which are chemicals that induce a harmful physical reaction. These stimulate immune cells and proteins, specifically immunoglobulin E (IgE).

If you have asthma, you are prone to episodes of bronchoconstriction or bronchospasm due to a variety of triggers. The immune reaction that occurs due to dander, in this case, results in this airway narrowing and/or sudden airway spasm.

People with asthma who tend to have severe reactions to dander may not be able to own pets or be around animals much at all. This doesn't necessarily mean their asthma is a severe type—it just means dander is a symptom trigger for them.

(Video) Symptoms of Pet Dander Allergies

IgE's Role in Allergic Asthma

Diagnosis

Self-reported symptoms are very helpful to healthcare providers working to identify the reason for asthma exacerbations. With animal dander and asthma, however, identifying patterns of symptoms can be challenging.

If, say, you have trouble breathing every time you're around your aunt's fluffy dog, that may be obvious. But there are other cases when you might experience asthma symptoms without being aware you've come in contact with pet dander at all. And the fact that symptoms could be mild or delayed can make finding such connections that much harder.

Try your best to pay attention to your animal exposures and your symptoms. Note when they occur, what they involve, and what types of animals you were around when they happened.

Present this to your healthcare provider, who will review the information and may conduct a skin prick test to help identify the cause of your symptoms.

Diagnostic Tests for Asthma

(Video) Allergic Asthma from Cats: What Can You Do?/ Can cat cause Asthma attack in peoples / Dr.hira saeed

Treatment

The best treatment for asthma reactions to animal dander is to avoid exposure altogether. But this isn't always realistic. You and your family may be too attached to the family pet to consider rehoming them, you may need the help of a service animal, or you might regularly encounter animal dander at friends' homes or even at your place of work.

Medical therapies to both prevent and treat reactions are available, and lifestyle changes can also go a long way in reducing related symptoms.

Preventive Medication

Preventive treatments include taking inhaled corticosteroids or antihistamines before being around animals. For example, Xolair (omalizumab) is an injectable medication that can be used to prevent pet allergen‐induced asthma.

Allergen injection immunotherapy—also known as subcutaneous immunotherapy (SCIT) or, more simply, allergy shots—involves a healthcare provider repeatedly injecting small amounts of an allergen just beneath the skin. This will eventually reduce a person's allergic response to the allergen and has been used to treat animal dander-induced asthmatic reactions with some success.

In fact, in updated guidelines for asthma treatment issued in December 2020, the National Institutes of Health recommended SCIT in addition to standard medication for people over age 5 with mild to moderate asthma that is controlled at the initiation, build-up, and maintenance phases of immunotherapy. This approach is not advisable for people with severe asthma.

Emergency Medication

Inhaled short-acting beta-agonists (SABAs) are bronchodilators that quickly open the airways. Also known as rescue inhalers, these treatments can help alleviate asthma symptoms after they begin.

How to Use a Bronchodilator Inhaler

Lifestyle Strategies

If your reaction to pet dander is mild, you could consider the following strategies for reducing exposure. Note, however, that according to the NIH guidelines, measures such as these should be used in conjunction with medication and other mitigating approaches, as they are not likely to be effective on their own. For example, keeping your cat out of your bedroom may help but will not be enough to prevent asthma symptoms alone.

(Video) Pet Dander Allergies and Its Symptoms || Pet Allergy || How Do You Live with Them? || Episode 3

  • Change clothes after prolonged playing or exposure to your pet.
  • Make your pet an "outside only" animal if possible and appropriate.
  • Stay away from your pet's favorite furniture.
  • Keep your pet out of bedrooms and other places where you spend a lot of time.
  • Ask your veterinarian if bathing your pet more frequently could help.
  • If you live with a family member or roommate who doesn't have asthma, ask that they bathe the pet, as well as clean the cage, living space, or litter box.
  • Remove wall-to-wall carpet. Consider hardwood, tile, or linoleum flooring as it won't retain allergens as much as carpeting does. If that's not an option, steam clean carpet frequently.
  • Use HEPA air filters to help reduce dander exposure.
  • Wear a dust mask while vacuuming. (Note: Frequent vacuuming does not decrease dander exposure, but using a HEPA vacuum filter or double bag may help.)

If you are considering a "trial removal" of an animal from your home—sending your cat to a friend's house for a while to see if your asthma improves, for example—know that this might not give you the answers you are looking for. Dander can remain in your house until you do a thorough cleaning to remove the residue, meaning you can be affected by it even though your pet is not there.

Safer Pets for Asthma

If you or your child has asthma and you don't already have a pet, but want one, try spending time with someone who has the animal you are considering before you take the plunge.

While there are no pets that are completely hypoallergenic, some animals produce less allergen than others and might be a better choice if you really want a pet.

Which Dogs Are Safe for Asthma?

Alternatively, consider animals that typically do not cause or worsen allergies like:

  • Turtles
  • Hermit crabs
  • Aquarium fish
  • Snakes

A Word From Verywell

People who have asthma may experience a reaction to animal dander at any age. For example, you could have symptoms during your childhood, adolescence, and/or adulthood, but you might not necessarily experience them throughout your whole life.

It may take some time for you, your family, and your healthcare provider to pinpoint animal dander as a trigger of your asthma symptoms. Once you do, try your very best to avoid dander so you can minimize your need for medication—especially emergency asthma treatments.

(Video) 15 Ways to Minimize Pet Allergies at Home

FAQs

How does pet trigger asthma? ›

People often think their asthma is triggered by animal hair, but if pets are a trigger for you, you're probably allergic to proteins found in the animal's flakes of skin (dander), saliva, urine or even fine particles from bird feathers known as 'feather dust'.

How do you protect yourself from pet dander? ›

7 Tips to Combat Pet Allergies
  1. Wash up. Ideally, you'd wash your pets once or twice a week. ...
  2. Declare the bedroom a pet-free zone. ...
  3. Brush or comb regularly. ...
  4. Clean and pick up. ...
  5. Use an allergen-capturing air filter. ...
  6. Consider the whole environment. ...
  7. Get medical help. ...
  8. Sources:

Does vacuuming remove pet dander? ›

Pet dander tends to collect in clothes, bedding, furniture, and carpet. Thus, reducing pet dander requires constant cleaning around the house. Vacuuming will help remove some pet dander from floors.

How long does pet dander stay in your system? ›

In some cases, pet dander will stay for 20-30 weeks, according to allergists. And the interesting thing is that pet dander sticks to EVERYTHING, from carpet and sofas to beds, floors, and even persons. If pet dander is stuck to a person, the slightest movement will cause it to spread around.

What is the fastest way to get rid of pet dander? ›

You can get rid of pet dander by grooming the pet to reduce the amount of dander produced, vacuuming frequently, using a HEPA air filter, Austin Air makes an air purifier just for pets, use anti-allergen sprays, and limiting where the pet goes. First, brush your pet regularly to remove dead skin cells and fur.

Can pet dander cause breathing problems? ›

This includes a runny or stuffy nose, sneezing, itchy or watery eyes, and shortness of breath. Coming into physical contact with pet dander can cause contact dermatitis, or a skin rash, hives or triggers a person's asthma.

Do antihistamines help with pet dander? ›

The right medication for you will depend on your symptoms and when you experience pet allergies. Nasal corticosteroids, antihistamines, and decongestants are all potential options for symptom relief.

Do air purifiers help asthma? ›

The answer is yes, air purifiers do work for asthma relief. In addition to taking care of asthma triggers around your home, air pollution and asthma are strongly linked. Fortunately, a healthy environment for asthma sufferers can be maintained by the use of an air purifier.

Can people with asthma be around pets? ›

Lots of people with asthma are allergic to animals. Some can keep their pets — and others can't. It depends on a person's asthma and if having a pet (like a dog, cat, or even a parrot!) makes symptoms worse.

Is there a spray that kills pet dander? ›

Allersearch ADMS Anti-Allergen Spray is an “inorganic anti-allergen spray that uses an oxidizing compound that destroys allergens from dust mites, pet dander, pollens, mold, and mildew on contact.” The clear, non-toxic spray obliterates allergens on carpets, curtains, and furniture without staining.

Does opening windows reduce pet dander? ›

Maintaining fresh air throughout your home is one easy way to help house guests who have pet allergies. Open some windows, run a fan, or turn on the air conditioner to create an exit for the allergens. For guests with mild allergies, this one tip may do the trick.

Does wearing a mask help with pet dander? ›

Masks work similarly to the way that air purifiers do. The filter media in the mask traps particles and pollutants as you breathe. Typically, an allergy mask will be able to provide protection against common particle allergens like pollen, plant spores, pet dander, mold, house dust, and dust mites.

Does Lysol remove dander? ›

Hard Surfaces: Finished wood baseboards, window sills and tables may all harbor allergens like pollen particles and pet dander. Lysol Disinfecting Wipes provide a dual benefit because they remove more than 95% of allergens and also kill 99.9% of germs on hard non-porous surfaces when used as directed.

Do air purifiers help with pet dander allergies? ›

Whole home air purifiers can help reduce the amount of pet dander, hair and odor accumulating in your home. Consider using high-quality MERV air filters to help your home sift particles from the air more efficiently.

Does the dryer get rid of pet dander? ›

Set the dryer for about 10 minutes on low heat or no heat. Simply running the laundry through a tumble cycle will loosen the fabrics and pet hair, no heat needed. When the dryer is done, take out the laundry, give it one last shake to remove any remaining pet hair and put it in the washer.

How long does it take to remove pet dander from a home? ›

If you have a pet allergy and your symptoms are severe, finding a new home for your pet may be your only option. And even then, it can take up to six months to rid your home of the pet dander since the allergen attaches itself to household dust.

Does vinegar help with pet dander? ›

All you have to do is sprinkle it on your most pungent areas and it should absorb most of the smells, especially if you're dealing with pet urine. Then after a few minutes, vacuum up the baking soda. Vinegar is also a great deodorizer but be careful using it if you have cats in the house.

Does baking soda get rid of pet dander? ›

It's fairly easy to use - all you have to do is sprinkle baking soda in the affected area, let it settle for a few minutes and then vacuum it. The baking soda absorbs the odor which is vacuumed away.

Can pet dander damage your lungs? ›

When pet hair and dander is inhaled, the tiny hairs and other harmful particles can travel down into the lung and stay there. In time this can inflame the lung lining and scar the airways, which can then progress into a chronic lung condition. We sometimes call this 'Groomers Lung'.

Does Flonase help with pet dander? ›

FLONASE goes directly into the nose to provide 24-hour relief at the source of your allergies. No matter which allergy symptoms you might get from your pets, FLONASE works hard to ensure that any symptoms caused by pet dander and other airborne allergens won't get in your way.

Does steam help with pet dander? ›

Steam cleaning not only removes dirt and bacteria from your carpet, but also washes out dust mites and dust mite allergens, pollen, and pet dander.

Which is better for pet allergies Zyrtec or Claritin? ›

Antihistamines for mild pet allergies

For example, a person with mild allergies may do well with Claritin. Another person with more severe allergies may do better with Zyrtec. However, Dr. Qamar says that although Zyrtec may be more effective in some patients, “around 10% of people can become sleepy with it.”

How do you keep your house clean for asthma? ›

Vacuum and dust (especially your bedroom) at least once a week. Stay away from feather or down pillows or comforters. Every few weeks, wash all of your bedding in hot water and then dry it on a high setting. Get special covers for your mattresses, pillows, and boxsprings.

What is the average life expectancy of a person with asthma? ›

The life expectancy of asthma patients is no less than any other normal human being, up to 80 years on an average. So, if you are a child, a teen, youngster and you have to live with it, at least be happy that it's not cutting off your life span.

What air is best for asthma? ›

Therefore, mild temperatures and low humidity are recommended. According to a small study in the American Journal of Respiratory and Critical Care Medicine , a room temperature of 68 to 71°F (20 to 21.6°C) is ideal for people with asthma. This temperature isn't too hot or cold, so it won't irritate the airways.

What breed of dog causes most allergies? ›

The worst dog breeds for people with allergies
  • Basset Hound.
  • Boston Terrier.
  • Bulldog.
  • Doberman Pinscher.
  • German Shepherd.
  • Labrador Retriever.
  • Pekingese.
  • Pug.
22 Jan 2021

Is cat hair cause asthma? ›

If you are cat allergic and cat allergens get into your lungs, the allergens can combine with antibodies and cause symptoms. These can include difficulty breathing, coughing, and wheezing. Cat allergies can cause an acute asthma attack and can be a trigger for chronic asthma.

Can dogs sense asthma? ›

Dog can SENSE owner's asthma attacks and warn her before they happen - without any training. An extraordinary dog can sense when her owner is about to have an asthma attack - despite never being trained to do so.

Can I train my dog to be a service dog for asthma? ›

​SIT Service Dogs

Patients who are diagnosed with a respiratory disease such as severe asthma or COPD can benefit from a medical alert dog. Medical Alert Dogs in these cases can be trained to remind a client to check his/her oxygen level, shortness of breathe, or medication levels.

Can dogs sense asthma attacks? ›

A trained asthma service dog knows exactly how to detect physiological changes before an asthma attack occurs. Service dogs for asthma are trained to: Notice and alert you to asthma triggers, such as dust, smoke and pollen. Listen for breathing changes that signal an asthma attack, such as coughing and wheezing.

Does Febreze help with pet dander? ›

Studies have shown that Febreze Allergen Reducer cuts down on as much as 75% of allergens from dust mites and cats and dogs that can become airborne. Once or twice a week, simply spray the product evenly over fabrics such as furniture, pet bedding, and drapes until damp.

Do humidifiers help with pet dander? ›

When moisture levels are high, pet dander sticks to surfaces, which you can then pick up on clothing and skin. Proper humidity at ideal temperatures fixes that and can help clear stuffy noses and tickling throats, too. Other allergies, such as eczema, can also be kept under tighter control with a humidifier.

Does pet dander stay in carpet? ›

Dander allergens are sticky, and dander in soft materials, such as carpets, mattresses, upholstered furniture and clothing, can persist for long periods of time. Unless special steps are taken, pet dander can remain in a home for up to six months after the pet has been removed.

Can pet dander damage your lungs? ›

When pet hair and dander is inhaled, the tiny hairs and other harmful particles can travel down into the lung and stay there. In time this can inflame the lung lining and scar the airways, which can then progress into a chronic lung condition. We sometimes call this 'Groomers Lung'.

What is the fastest way to get rid of pet dander? ›

You can get rid of pet dander by grooming the pet to reduce the amount of dander produced, vacuuming frequently, using a HEPA air filter, Austin Air makes an air purifier just for pets, use anti-allergen sprays, and limiting where the pet goes. First, brush your pet regularly to remove dead skin cells and fur.

Can dog dander cause lung problems? ›

How Does Pet Dander Affect Respiratory Health? Airborne particles get into the lungs and can cause breathing problems just like any particulate matter. Particulate matter inside your lungs can trigger coughing, wheezing, and shortness of breath. The worst case scenario is that it can trigger an asthma attack.

Can too much pet dander make you sick? ›

This includes a runny or stuffy nose, sneezing, itchy or watery eyes, and shortness of breath. Coming into physical contact with pet dander can cause contact dermatitis, or a skin rash, hives or triggers a person's asthma.

Does wearing a mask help with pet dander? ›

Masks work similarly to the way that air purifiers do. The filter media in the mask traps particles and pollutants as you breathe. Typically, an allergy mask will be able to provide protection against common particle allergens like pollen, plant spores, pet dander, mold, house dust, and dust mites.

How can I clean my lungs? ›

How Can I Clean My Lungs?
  1. Do Steam Therapy. Breathe in, breathe out. ...
  2. Drink Green Tea. Cleaning your lungs may be as simple as sipping hot tea—green tea, specifically. ...
  3. Invest in an Air Purifier. One way to clean your lungs is to first clean the air you breathe. ...
  4. Exercise Regularly. ...
  5. Eat Anti-Inflammatory Foods.

Is there a spray that kills pet dander? ›

Allersearch ADMS Anti-Allergen Spray is an “inorganic anti-allergen spray that uses an oxidizing compound that destroys allergens from dust mites, pet dander, pollens, mold, and mildew on contact.” The clear, non-toxic spray obliterates allergens on carpets, curtains, and furniture without staining.

Does opening windows reduce pet dander? ›

Maintaining fresh air throughout your home is one easy way to help house guests who have pet allergies. Open some windows, run a fan, or turn on the air conditioner to create an exit for the allergens. For guests with mild allergies, this one tip may do the trick.

Does vinegar help with pet dander? ›

All you have to do is sprinkle it on your most pungent areas and it should absorb most of the smells, especially if you're dealing with pet urine. Then after a few minutes, vacuum up the baking soda. Vinegar is also a great deodorizer but be careful using it if you have cats in the house.

What is a natural way to get rid of dog dander? ›

Here are five home remedies to try:
  1. Regularly groom your dog. This is a simple way to maintain your dog's coat and keep dandruff at bay. ...
  2. Give supplements of omega-3 fatty acids. ...
  3. Use a humidifier in your home. ...
  4. Try anti-dandruff or a soothing oatmeal dog shampoo. ...
  5. Feed your dog a good diet.
1 Aug 2022

Does dog hair aggravate asthma? ›

Besides carrying dander, spit, or pee, animal fur or feathers also can collect other things that can make asthma symptoms worse, like: dust mites (tiny bugs) pollen (from plants) mold.

Can pet dander cause upper respiratory infection? ›

Animal dander is one of the most common allergens in the world. Pet allergies often cause upper and lower respiratory problems such as congestion, sneezing, runny nose, chest tightness, and wheezing. Other symptoms include watery eyes, itching, and eczema or rashes.

Videos

1. All you need to know about cat allergies & what you can do about them!
(Jackson Galaxy)
2. How to Get Rid of Pet Allergies | Stephen Dreskin, MD, PhD, Allergy and Immunology | UCHealth
(UCHealth)
3. Pet allergies / What are pet allergies?
(Child Health)
4. How does asthma work? - Christopher E. Gaw
(TED-Ed)
5. What Are Pet Allergies and How Do You Live with Them?
(National Jewish Health)
6. Things That Could Be Making Your Asthma Worse
(Health Digest)

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