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How do you know if animals trigger your asthma?

Most people with an allergy to animals react quickly – often within a few minutes. Some people might not notice symptoms until several hours later.

As well as asthma symptoms, you might have other symptoms like an itchy, watery nose and eyes, sneezing and coughing.

If you’re highly allergic to animals, you might have severe breathing problems, as well as a fast heart rate, feeling clammy, feeling faint and even collapsing – an extreme reaction called anaphylaxis.

If your asthma symptoms get better after being away from your pet – for example on holiday – you may be allergic to them.

Remember, though, that moving your pet to a different room or outside may not prevent asthma symptoms, because the allergens can stay in your carpet, furniture and clothes.

Even if you re-home your pet, you may still have symptoms for some time.

The only way to confirm if you have an animal allergy is by getting your doctor to refer you for a skin prick test and/or blood test. Don’t be tempted to buy a home allergy testing kit – these may not be reliable.

Owning a pet is one of life’s pleasures. However, for some people having a pet triggers allergic reactions that make it too difficult to have a pet in their household. Happily, there are things you can do to reduce the risk of animal’s triggering your asthma. Here we look at what causes an allergic reaction to pets and how you can manage your symptoms.

Alternative pet ideas for children with asthma

If your children love animals but cant keep a household pet, here are some other ways they could feel connected to an animal:

  • Sponsor an animal through a zoo, safari park or charity scheme.
  • Get your child a substitute pet such as an interactive toy like a Furby or Little Live Pet, or an animal app. Virtual pets let children feel like they’re caring for an animal without the risk of triggering asthma symptoms.
  • Some people are allergic to farm animals like cows, sheep and chickens, as well as small animals that are often found in petting zoos, like guinea pigs and rabbits.

    This could be a problem for children in particular, who might go on a school trip or to a party at a petting zoo or farm, but schools have to make sure that pupils with medical conditions like asthma are able to take part in school trips.

    If your child is visiting a farm or petting zoo, make sure the adults who are going with them know about their asthma.

    It’s essential for your child to take their reliever inhaler (usually blue) with them, and if the school has a spare inhaler for emergency use, an adult accompanying the trip should take that with them, too.

    Your child might need to take an antihistamine beforehand. They should avoid contact with the animals as much as possible, and always wash their hands after touching an animal.

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