Lauren loves hanging out in her room on her shag rug with her cat, Boris. Boris also sleeps in Lauren's bed and spends hours cleaning himself on the windowsill.
Lauren's asthma symptoms have been getting worse, though, so Lauren's doctor sent her to see an allergist. The allergist did a skin test and found that Lauren is allergic to animals. In other words, Lauren's allergic to Boris.
It's not the animal's fur that's the main problem. People can be allergic to birds as well. When people are allergic to animals, they're actually allergic to proteins found in:
Aside from carrying dander, saliva, or urine, fur can collect dust mites, pollen, mold, and other allergens. The droppings of caged animals — like hamsters — can attract mold and dust mites.
Although some people say that certain breeds of dogs or cats don't cause allergic reactions, that's not the case. All warm-blooded animals can cause allergic reactions.
If your pet triggers your asthma, especially if your asthma is severe, the best thing might be to find it another home. This is difficult to do, though. So if your doctor says it's OK, you may be able to try these steps first:
If you have a bird, gerbil, or other small caged animal, move the cage out of your room. Make sure your pet stays in its cage at all times. Have someone else clean the cage daily. Also make sure that the pet's cage isn't near any drafts. If the cage is sitting next to a heating or cooling vent, it could blow pet allergens through the room.
If you try all these things and are still having lots of asthma flare-ups, you might need to find another home for your pet. This is likely to be pretty upsetting for you and other members of your family.
You may feel lots of different emotions — from sadness to anger. These feelings might be so strong that they make it hard to eat, sleep, or concentrate. This is a natural part of losing something that is precious to you.
How you handle things depends on your personality. You may want to be so busy so that you aren't home to miss your pet, or you may want to spend time every day looking at pictures of you together.
There is no right or wrong way to handle feelings of loss. You might find it helpful to talk about it with friends, family, or a counselor.
It takes months for an animal's allergens to leave the house, so it might take a while before your symptoms improve. Even if you no longer have a pet at home, you're still going to be around animals from time to time. If you go to house where there is a pet, take any prescription allergy medicine before going and have your quick-relief medicine with you.
Reviewed by: Elana Pearl Ben-Joseph, MD
Date reviewed: January 2014
|National Institutes of Health's National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases (NIAID) The National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases (NIAID) conducts and supports basic and applied research to better understand, treat, and ultimately prevent infectious, immunologic, and allergic diseases.|
|American Academy of Allergy, Asthma, and Immunology The American Academy of Allergy, Asthma, and Immunology offers up-to-date information and a find-an-allergist search tool.|
|Dealing With Asthma Triggers Triggers are substances or activities that are harmless to most people. But in people with asthma, they can lead to coughing, wheezing, and shortness of breath. Read this article for tips on dealing with asthma triggers.|
|Asthma Center Visit our Asthma Center for information and advice on managing and living with asthma.|
|Asthma-Safe Homes You want to feel good in your own home, right? If you have asthma, you can take steps to remove or minimize triggers at home that cause breathing problems and asthma flare-ups.|
|Traveling and Asthma If you have asthma, travel can seem less fun because there's always the worry that something unexpected may cause a flare-up. Here's how to avoid problems so you can concentrate on the fun.|
|What Can I Do if I'm Allergic to My Cat? Find out what the experts have to say.|
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