I’m no stranger when it comes to asthma. I’ve had it for as long as I can remember and even my cat is asthmatic too.
Being asthmatic would mean a low possibility of owning a dog or worse, having to rehome your dog.
Many of my readers have asked me if dog hair is bad for asthma which is a common cause of concern.
Dog hair itself isn’t typically the cause of asthma flare-ups. Allergens like dander, saliva and urine that are often attached to it can trigger symptoms in people who are asthmatic. It’s these allergens, rather than the hair itself, that can exacerbate asthma symptoms and cause discomfort.
This article aims to provide insights and solutions to this problem. Equipping you with the knowledge to maintain both your health and your dog.
What Is Asthma?
Asthma is a chronic disease that affects both the young and old. It causes the airways in the lungs to become inflamed and constricted.
This can lead to adverse asthma symptoms such as:
- Difficulty breathing
- Chest tightness
Asthma attacks can happen when the individual comes into contact with a trigger that is present in the environment.
The most common triggers are:
- Pet allergens
- Dust mites
Asthma is a VERY individual response to a lot of potential triggers which can be a minor inconvenience for some and deadly for others.
Can Dog Hair Cause Breathing Problems?
Dog hair can definitely cause breathing problems if your asthma can be triggered by a dog.
But the important thing to note here is that it isn’t just the dog’s hair that is causing it.
Dog Hair Is Not The Culprit
People who are not familiar with asthma seem to think that it’s dog hair that can trigger an asthma attack.
That isn’t entirely true.
I often hear people say not to breathe in dog hair as it can mess up your respiratory system.
The main culprit is actually a type of protein that your dog eliminates which can cause allergic asthma.
The major dog protein allergens are known to be Can f 1 and Can f 2which are found in dog dander and saliva.
This makes it easy for most asthma attacks to happen as dog dander is everywhere at home and dogs love to lick their owners.
Pet dander is found on both cats and dogs.
It is dead skin flakes that are shed by these animals and are very tiny in size.
When you breathe in pet dander or allow your dog to lick you on the face, there is a high risk of these proteins triggering an asthma attack.
It’s Not Even Your Dog’s Fault
What if I tell you that it isn’t even your dog’s dander that is a treat to your asthma?
Most pet owners are quick to put the blame on the dog or dog when having an allergic reaction or asthma attack.
Let me pose a question to you.
Do you take your dog out for walks frequently?
The majority of dog owners would take their dogs out at least once a day to relieve themselves.
Don’t be a lazy dog owner that doesn’t take the dog out for a walk at all.
When your dog is out with you, chances are it will get curious and wander off to investigate stuff.
By doing so, pollen, dust and other allergens can get stuck on your dog’s fur and get dispersed all over the house when your dog returns home.
How Bad Is Your Asthma?
Not all asthmas are made equal.
If you have the type of asthma that can be life-threatening whenever you get near a dog, that is very serious.
Chances are you won’t be able to get a dog or might even have to rehome your dog under such circumstances.
Uncontrolled asthma is very dangerous.
The good thing is that most of our asthma attacks can be well managed with allergy shots and asthma treatment.
One thing that I would strongly advise you to do is to get an allergy test if you have allergic asthma.
This can allow you to make an informed decision about your dog and lower the risk of an asthma attack while having a dog around.
I did a skin prick test to ascertain what could potentially trigger my asthma and lo and behold, it was cats!
That kinda sucked because I always love smelling my cats like taking deep deep sniffs, especially at the top of their heads.
These days I need to make sure my cat is ‘clean’ before doing so.
How Do I Reduce My Risk Of Asthma Attacks?
Assuming that you don’t have severe asthma and can still be kept under control with a dog around, here are a few things that I usually do to keep my home clean.
Feed Your Dog A Good Diet
You are what you eat and your dog is no different.
If you are feeding your dog a lot of poor-quality food like kibbles or junk food, you can expect your dog to have bad skin and more dander.
We are Petsbeam.com strongly believe that most dog owners can build a strong health foundation for their dogs by feeding them a raw meat diet.
This is the most natural diet for dogs which are carnivores in nature.
Serving your dog a raw diet can result in healthier skin that’s not overly oily, leading to a fur coat that’s softer, shinier, and smoother.
This improved coat health contributes to a reduction in shedding and dander production.
Wash Your Hands
This is something that many of us dog owners tend to forget or forgo.
Washing my hands after I touch my dog or cat has really helped my asthma from being triggered.
Personal cleanliness is very important when you have asthma.
Make sure to wash your hands after touching your dog.
Touching your face after petting your dog is a recipe for disaster.
This also helps to minimize the transfer of any zoonotic diseases such as pink eye which you can get for your dog.
Vacuum (A Lot)
Vacuuming my home has become a daily routine for me ever since I started keeping pets. In fact, I vacuum my home twice a day.
Dogs can shed as much fur as cats, especially for long hair breeds like Huskies and Retrievers.
And for someone like me with a dog and cat at home, the amount of fur I find can by mind-boggling.
And the more dog hair you have laying around at home, the more dog dander you will have as well.
Make sure to vacuum those hard-to-reach corners where dander and hair like to accumulate.
I got a bagged vacuum with a HEPA filter which helps to trap all the fine dander and dust particles.
Bagless vacuums let out a lot of dust when you clean the canister, even if you’re very careful.
Don’t Let Your Dog In The Bedroom
I know this can be hard to do for many dog owners, even myself.
I’m more allergic to cats but I also make it a habit to not let my dog into the bedroom too often just to be safe.
This is something that you need to be firm about especially if yours is triggered by dogs.
You need to keep your sleeping area a pet-free zone.
Breathing in dog dander all night long can certainly mess up your respiratory system.
You’re not being a bad owner for not allowing your dog into the bedroom.
The good thing is that dogs are a lot easier to train in this aspect.
Shower Your Dog
It is important to keep your dog clean if you have asthma.
Showering your dog once a week is a good way to get rid of excess dander on its body.
However, it isn’t too good for your dog’s skin if you shower your dog too frequently.
it can cause your dog’s skin to dry out and even start to flake more.
I would suggest using a milder shampoo if you plan to shower your dog on a more frequent basis.
Make sure to use a face mask when showering and drying your dog as there will be a lot of dander in the air.
Another way that you can use to keep your dog clean without showering it too often is to wipe it down with a damp cloth or pet wipes.
I do this every day after we are back from our daily walk.
This helps to reduce dander at home and remove whatever stuff that is stuck on his fur.
Brush Your Dog
Grooming or brushing your dog frequently can also help to reduce dander at home.
If you have a long hair dog, daily brushes are recommended and once every couple of days for short hair dogs.
Brush your dog outside and wear a face mask so that you won’t end up breathing in all the dander coming off its fur.
Use An Air Filter
Placing a few air filters around my house has helped to reduce my asthma attacks tremendously.
There are on for most of the day to remove as much dander from the air as possible.
Similar to your vacuum cleaner, get an air filter that is designed for pet allergies as they have filters that are fine enough to filter out dander.
Word of caution, good air filters don’t come cheap but to me, it is a worthy investment than having to rehome my dog.
Take Your Medication
I’m not a fan of taking daily medication for my asthma but if that is what your doctor prescribes, it is best to follow suit.
I have an inhaler which I use when I start to feel my symptoms appearing.
Benadryl does help at times too when I need something stronger.
Does Getting A Hypoallergenic Dog Help With My Asthma?
There is quite a bit of misunderstanding and misconception about hypoallergenic pets.
There is no such thing as a dog or cat breed that is totally hypoallergenic which can put an end to your allergies or asthma.
All dogs carry the protein that can trigger these health issues.
However, hypoallergenic dog breeds are known to shed less hair and produce less dander.
But it won’t help much if you have bad asthma.
Here are some dog breeds that are more suitable for people with allergies and asthma:
- Afghan Hound
- Chinese Crested
- Bedlington Terrier
- Giant Schnauzer
- Miniature Schnauzer
- Standard Schnauzer
- Irish Water Spaniel
- Portuguese Water Dog
Is It Ok To Have A Dog If You Have Asthma?
I am living proof that it is Ok to have a dog even with asthma. In fact, my home has always had pets ever since I was a kid.
It’s certainly possible to have a dog if you have asthma but it does require careful consideration and management.
Not everyone with asthma will react to dogs or their allergens in the same way, so the impact can vary greatly from person to person.
If you have asthma and are thinking of getting a dog, here are two things that you need to do first.
- Speak to your doctor
- Spend some time with dogs
If your doctor thinks your asthma can be managed and gives you the green light to own a dog, that is definitely awesome news.
But if they don’t think it is a good idea, it’s best to heed their medical advice.
You don’t want to get a dog and be forced to get rid of your dog due to a near-fatal asthma attack.
Before even getting a dog, make sure to go spend as much time with them as possible.
Volunteer at a pet shelter or go to a friend’s house with a dog.
That will give you a good idea of how your asthma will react to dog dander.
Can You Get Asthma From Sleeping With Your Dog?
While sleeping with your dog doesn’t directly cause asthma, it can trigger symptoms in you who are already asthmatic or allergic to dogs. Dog dander and saliva can irritate your airways and lead to an asthma attack.
What Is The Difference Between Asthma And An Allergy?
Asthma is a chronic condition that affects your airways, leading to difficulty in breathing. An allergy is an immune system reaction to specific substances or allergens. Allergens can trigger asthma symptoms but not everyone who has allergies has asthma.