A cat, an inhaler, and a dog look at each other at a table

Combining Households and Pets: Can My Asthma Handle It?

Recently, my partner and I made a huge decision - we moved in together, after four years of dating. I feel ready emotionally and spiritually, but the uncertainty revolves around the three fur children - one dog and two cats - that we’ve been raising in separate households. I have asthma, and animal dander is one of my primary triggers.

What have I gotten my allergies and asthma into?

Understanding my asthma triggers and treatments ahead of time

I’ve been able to live alone with a big, short-haired dog for six years without having an asthma attack. That isn’t to say I haven’t experienced any symptoms - my eyes get watery and itchy and I break out in hives if I don’t control the amount of dog fur and dander in my living space - but I’m at least going into this knowing that I can live with an animal successfully. And part of that is being honest with myself about my health and what I need to do to maintain it.

Understanding my triggers

I’ve had asthma since I was a year old, so I’ve learned over time what causes me to experience asthma and allergy symptoms. Knowing that animal fur and dander from both cats and dogs is triggering for me, it’s up to me to communicate what my needs are in my living situation, advocate for my health, and take care of myself.

Finding the right medications

There’s no cookie-cutter treatment plan for asthma since each individual’s asthma type and symptoms can be different. A successful asthma treatment should help you have fewer asthma symptoms and do more of the activities you want to do, and for me, that includes living with pets. Working with my primary healthcare provider on allergy medications and a long-acting inhaler (with a rescue inhaler for backup) has been key in managing mild symptoms and preventing asthma attacks.1

Controlling exposure to pet fur and dander

Consistent cleaning. Part of having pets, and also having asthma and allergies, is knowing and accepting that there will be cleaning involved - and often. Dusting, vacuuming, and mopping on a weekly basis have been necessary to control my symptoms, as well as keeping an air purifier in the center of the living space.

Living with asthma, allergies, and three pets

We’re one month in, and as the added dander and fur from two additional animals starts swirling around me, along with my dog’s own contributions, I’ve already had to make adjustments to my routines.

More sinus rinsing

Part of my allergy treatment is flushing my sinuses with a saline rinse to clear mucous, reduce postnasal drip, and better absorb my nose spray. This has become a daily process rather than just every once in a while to keep my nostrils moist and clear.2

Less sweeping, more vacuuming

Sweeping has actually become problematic for putting dander and hair in the air, so I’ve now opted for using a deep-cleaning vacuum on the floors. More space equals more cleaning. Once a week may not cut it anymore with three more bedrooms, an additional bathroom, and a larger living space to consider. Blocking off more time to clean isn’t always convenient, but keeping my symptoms under control is worth the effort.

The takeaway

Moving in with a partner or friend who has pets doesn’t have to be a dealbreaker if you know what your asthma triggers are, take ownership of your asthma treatment plan, and are willing to put in the effort necessary to keep the dander and hair under control. The happiness I feel having two cats and a dog wake me up in the morning makes it all worth it.

By providing your email address, you are agreeing to our privacy policy. We never sell or share your email address.

This article represents the opinions, thoughts, and experiences of the author; none of this content has been paid for by any advertiser. The Asthma.net team does not recommend or endorse any products or treatments discussed herein. Learn more about how we maintain editorial integrity here.

Join the conversation

or create an account to comment.