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Pets and Asthma

2008 May 22

About the author: Lina Younes has been working for EPA since 2002 and chairs EPA’s Multilingual Communications Task Force. Prior to joining EPA, she was the Washington bureau chief for two Puerto Rican newspapers and she has worked for several government agencies.

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During the month of May, Asthma Awareness Month, I’ve been working on several activities to increase awareness among Hispanics about asthma. This pulmonary disease affects about 22 million individuals across the United States. While this is a serious, sometimes life-threatening disease, it can be controlled so asthmatics can live a healthy life.

During interviews in Spanish-language media, I have discussed several tips to address environmental asthma triggers, in particular, how to reduce indoor asthma triggers such as second hand smoke, dust mites, mold, cockroaches and other pests, warm-blooded pets (like cats, dogs or hamsters), and nitrogen dioxide, as a way to control asthma attacks.

I know that trying to keep beloved pets away from the bedrooms and off the furniture can be sometimes easier said than done. Nonetheless, that’s essential if you want to keep the pet dander, saliva, and hair away from the sleeping areas, upholstery and carpets.

Short of giving your pet up for adoption (a necessary drastic measure if pet allergens are your key asthma trigger), there are some steps you can take to reduce the exposure to cat allergens. A friend shared an article recently which recommends soaking a washcloth or sponge with distilled water and wiping the cat down twice a week to minimize its dander. The article published last year in Health Monitor emphasized the importance of using distilled water while highlighting that its use was much more effective than other commercial products that make the claim to reduce pet allergens. In the perfect world, asthmatics should leave the cat grooming to someone else. However, if the allergic individual lives alone, a paper mask can be used to minimize inhaling the allergen. Furthermore, vacuuming frequently using a vacuum cleaner with a HEPA filter is also highly recommended.

Needless to say, that working with your doctor to create an asthma plan that works for you is one of the first steps to managing this disease and living a fruitful life. Just wanted to share some advice for those who simply cannot say goodbye to their furry friend.

Las mascotas y el asma

Sobre la autor: Lina M. F. Younes ha trabajado en la EPA desde el 2002 y está a cargo del Grupo de Trabajo sobre Comunicaciones Multilingües. Como periodista, dirigió la oficina en Washington de dos periódicos puertorriqueños y ha laborado en varias agencias gubernamentales.

Durante el mes de mayo, el Mes de Concienciación sobre el Asma, he estado trabajando en diferentes actividades para crear conciencia entre los hispanos acerca del asma. Esta enfermedad pulmonar afecta cerca de 22 millones de individuos en Estados Unidos. Mientras es una condición seria, y a veces puede ser mortal, si es controlada debidamente los asmáticos pueden vivir una vida saludable.

Durante varias entrevistas con medios hispanos, he mencionado varios consejos para abordar los desencadenantes ambientales del asma, en particular, cómo reducir los desencadenantes del asma en entornos interiores tales como el tabaquismo pasivo, los ácaros de polvo, el moho, las cucarachas, y otras plagas, los animales de sangre caliente (como gatos, perros o hámsters), y bióxido de nitrógeno, como una manera para controlar los ataques de asma.

Sé que el mantener a las queridas mascotas fuera de los dormitorios o lejos de los muebles puede resultar más fácil decirlo que hacerlo. No obstante, esto es esencial para asegurar que la caspa de los animales, la saliva o los pelos no tengan contacto con las áreas donde duerme, los muebles tapizados o las alfombras.

Mientras que en los casos más extremos es posible que tenga que dar su mascota en adopción (una medida drástica, pero necesaria si los alergenos de mascotas son el principal desencadenante de sus ataques de asma), hay algunos pasos que usted debe tomar para reducir la exposición a los alergenos de gatos. Una amiga me envió un artículo recientemente que recomienda el mojar un paño o esponja con agua destilada para limpiar a su gato dos veces en semana para minimizar la caspa. El artículo fue publicado el año pasado en Health Monitor.com. ] [El artículo enfatiza la importancia de utilizar agua destilada y destaca el hecho que su uso es mucho más efectivo que otros productos comerciales que alegan la reducción de los alergenos de las mascotas. En un mundo perfecto, los asmáticos deberían dejar que otra persona limpie su querido gato usando este método. Sin embargo, si la persona alérgica vive sola, entonces debe utilizar una máscara de papel limpiar la mascota y para minimizar el inhalar el alergeno. Además, el pasar la aspiradora frecuentemente utilizando un filtro HEPA también es altamente recomendado.

Demás está decir que el trabajar con su médico para crear un plan de asma que funcione para usted es uno de los primeros pasos a seguir para manejar esta enfermedad y vivir una vida fructífera. Sólo quería darle algunos consejos para aquellas personas que simplemente no pueden prescindir de sus queridas mascotas.

Editor's Note: The opinions expressed here are those of the author. They do not reflect EPA policy, endorsement, or action, and EPA does not verify the accuracy or science of the contents of the blog.

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16 Responses leave one →
  1. Emerida Rivera permalink
    May 29, 2008

    Muy interesante e ilustrativo el artículo sobre las mascotas y el asma. En mi casa siempre este es un asunto de sumo interés por que tengo un hijo asmático. Tengo varios amigos que son médicos alergista y se la hice llegar para que la compartieran con sus pacientes. En nuestro caso tenemos que precicndir de los gatos y los perros pero tenemos peces como mascotas. Les felicito por su gran labor.

  2. Lina Younes-EPA permalink*
    May 30, 2008

    Muchas gracias por su comentarios a nuestro blog. Para aquellos que no pueden prescindir de sus queridas mascotas, creo que estos consejos proveen algún aliciente. Saludos

    For those who are not bilingual–We received the following comments from Ms. Rivera:
    Very interesting and informative article on pets and asthma. At home, this is a very important issue since my son is asthmatic. I sent the article to several friends, among them, some allergists so they could share it abmong their pacients. At home we cannot have cats nor dogs, but we have fish as pets. Congratulations for your work.

    I responded in Spanish–thanks for your comments. hope these tips can help those who simply cannot live without their pets to find a happy medium. Regards.

  3. Ana permalink
    May 15, 2009

    Thanks for the advice, this is my last chance because if this does not work my kids and I will be so sad to say goo-bye to our two months cat. I suffer from asthma and I have been sick since she is at home. Thank you again.

  4. economydogcare.com permalink
    December 6, 2009

    Just came across you post while I was looking for allergies in dog. My sister is very allergic to my dog as a result I have looked into dog dander. I do have recipe that will help to keep a dog’s dander down. So I thought I would pass it on
    1 oz vodka
    15 oz room temperature water (use distilled water if you have it)
    10-30 drops of your favourite moisturizing oil (almost any MOISTURIZING essential oil will work check out Tea Tree Oil, Jojoba Oil, Almond Oil, Eucalyptus Oil) Start with the lower amount until you see how you and your dog deal with the scent and is not allergic to the oil you chose.
    Place all ingredients into a spray bottle. Sake well before using.

    Then being careful about spraying your dog’s sensitive areas such as open wounds, eyes, ears, anal and genital areas, spray your dog and rub it in so it reaches the skin. Also be sure to watch and make sure that your dog is not allergic to whichever oil you choose. In winter months when air can be particularly dry you can if needed spray your dog several times a day.

    NOTE: Essential oils can be toxic to cats and rabbits.

    Good Luck
    Cecilia

  5. Gavelect permalink
    April 9, 2010

    I just started working for the RSPCA pet insurance department. I was amazed to find out that pets can have Asthma.

  6. bobby permalink
    February 9, 2011

    Great article. Thanks for the info.

  7. HGH Side Effects permalink
    March 31, 2011

    I have a German Shepherd with Asthma and allergies so I really enjoyed the post.

    Thanks for sharing.

    DR

  8. HGH Side Effects permalink
    April 19, 2011

    Enjoyed the read. Animals don’t get enough attention as they should.

  9. Maly permalink
    May 10, 2011

    As a matter of fact, you will find pet dander: on your pet, resting on surfaces(eg rugs and furniture) and also suspended in indoor air.

    Go without carpet if you can. They trap dander. Bare floors are better.

    If you have central heating and air conditioning, you may want to add an air cleaner with a HEPA filter to help remove pet allergens from the air.

    Whilst keeping the house clean and uncluttered, you also help provide a allergen free environment to your beloved pet.

    Maly

  10. PetsTipsPortal.info permalink
    June 6, 2011

    Very much informative post. I like it. Thanks for sharing in the web.

  11. Danny permalink
    September 28, 2011

    Lina

    You got it right in one when you said about a asthma plan. My wife suffers from asthma and we have 1 cat. We have found that just by doing a few extra things around the house like vacuuming twice a week instead of once and also keeping the house well aired we have found keeping the allergens down we have been able to control the situation.

    Thanks for the post.

  12. Liz Micik permalink
    April 22, 2013

    I know you posted this a while ago, but I’m hoping you still moderate the comments and will see this. When it comes to combating allergies and relieving symptoms, you might be able to get more relief by using essential oils. At the very least, they can help you avoid the side effects that are sometimes associated with allergy shots and medications, and can boost your overall health without drowsiness.

    I normally try not to get all “geeky” but a study conducted in 2004 at the Department of Organic and Bioorganic Chemistry at Lund University in Sweden showed the effectiveness of a Nasal Spray formulated with the essential oils of Eucalyptus (cineole), Lavender (linalool) and Cypress (davanone). After administration of the nasal spray, all patients experienced a rapid and significant relief of nasal symptoms, comparable to the effect of antihistamine. The effect was present within 5 minutes after the administration and lasted for several hours.

    On my site, I have several “recipes” (lists of oils that when used alone or together will help with specific allergic reactions.

    Hope they help,
    Liz

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