Pets provide their owners with many benefits to both the mind and body. Having pets have been shown to lower cholesterol levels and feelings of loneliness, as well as increase oppotunities for socialization and exercise or outdoor activities. But for asthma sufferers and people with allergies, having pets near can potentially trigger allergies and attacks. Even so, animal lovers are not stopped by this fact. If you’re someone who suffers from asthma or allergies, but would very much like to keep a pet around, consider these pets.
Goldfish and other fish make the best pets for people with asthma and allergies since they have no hair or dander, says Dr. Katherine Quesenberry, an exotic-pets expert at New York City’s Animal Medical Center. However, you can’t be as hands-on with them as with other kinds of pet like cats or dogs. “Since they are in water and there is no direct or airborne contact, allergies should not be an issue,” Dr. Quesenberry says.
Although you won’t be dealing with hair or dander, you may still have problems with mold. So, it’s important to clean their tanks regularly. Also, monitor your house’s humidity, as too much humidity can cause mold and build-up of dust mites.
Another good option as pets for people with asthma and allergies are reptiles. This includes snakes, turtles, and geckos. You won’t be dealing with fur and dander, but scales and shedding skin. These are no cause for worry though, as they don’t have the proteins that cause allergic reactions, says Dr. Quesenberry.
What you will have to worry about is exposure to salmonella. To some reptiles, they are normal intestinal bacteria. But they can cause harm when transmitted to humans. “Salmonella can cause severe intestinal inflammation and diarrhea in people,” Dr. Quesenberry says. “It is most commonly reported in people with underdeveloped or compromised immune systems, such as in young children or the elderly.”
To avoid the transfer of salmonella from your pet to you, remember to wash your hands after handling your pet. Again, as with fish, their tanks should be cleaned regularly to avoid molds which might trigger an asthma attack or allergies.
Nonshedding dogs, like poodles, are also a good option to have as a pet. However, they’ll still trigger asthma and allergies caused by dander, which are skin cells that bind to the hair. But having less fur to deal with could make a difference.
Any breed of cat or dog with no hair, like the Sphynx cat or Xoloitzcuintli, is a good choice for a pet. Since they have no (or practically no hair), they’ll expose you to less dander.
Dogs that require regular grooming (such as Afghan Hound, Bearded Collie, and Pekingese) can be good pets for people with asthma and allergies. According to veterinarians, washing and brushing regularly results in these dogs losing some of the dander built up in their fur.