Perhaps one of the most emotional issues that moms of asthmatic kids can face is whether or not to allow a child to have a pet – or to rehome a pet already present in the house. However, there are some crucial facts that moms should keep in mind about this particular problem that can make those decisions easier.
Make Sure there's a Problem to Begin With
The good news is that asthmatic children are not all necessarily allergic to animals. The best way to find out if there is a problem to begin with is to get them tested by an allergist, according to Parents Magazine. The American College of Asthma, Allergies, and Immunology (ACAAI) concurs. They adds allergy testing is incredibly important as it can help parents narrow down exactly what their child's allergies are – so they can better avoid them.
Choose Your Pet Wisely
Another way to minimize problems is choosing your pet wisely. Parents Magazine also notes that while cats and dogs are obviously the most popular choice for pets in the US – parents should proceed with caution. No cat or dog is truly hypoallergenic and short- haired or hairless pets are not necessarily the best choice. This is because most children react not to a pet's fur but to their dander (dead skin cells) and saliva, which all cats and dogs have to some degree. That said, smaller dogs and certain breeds like poodles do shed less and might be a better choice, according to Everyday Health.
Alternative pets include fish (one of the best choice for asthmatic kids), reptiles like snakes (though there is a risk for salmonella exposure) and even hedgehogs which do not have dander or fur but are also not legal to own in all states so be sure of our state laws before deciding.
Clean and Minimize Exposure
If you do have a cat or dog and your child is allergic to it but you want to keep the pet, there are ways to minimize the effect it will have on your child's asthma. Vacuum and dust regularly or consider keeping your cat or dog as an outside pet. At the very least, make sure your child's bedroom is a pet-free zone. Everyday Health also adds that keeping pets off of the furniture, where they can leave fur, dander, or other allergens on the upholstery, is also important – as is using a HEPA filter to keep the air in the home clean.
The issue of pets and children can be a difficult one. However, keeping these things in mind can help to minimize the problem and allow your child to experience the joys and responsibilities of pet ownership while still keeping their asthma under good control.