Preparing For a New Pet
I love animals. Ever since I was a child, we always had pets in our home. For the longest time, I thought I would grow up and work somewhere in veterinary medicine. Yet here I am working in the human medical field as a respiratory therapist. I still love animals and we have several of them in our home. Recently we decided to adopt a new furry friend into our family: a bunny. Not just any bunny--a Flemish giant, which is the world's largest breed of rabbit.
Having asthma adds a unique component when it comes to pet ownership. I took some time to compile a list of things to consider and prepare for when welcoming an animal to your home.
Research, research, research
No matter what kind of animal you are considering, really take the time to adequately research everything about it. Especially if it is a new breed of animal that you have never had before.
When we were researching all about Flemish giant rabbits, I did a lot of online researching. I joined a few online groups to really see what others experiences are with this breed and to learn as many tips and tricks that I could ahead of time so I would be prepared.
Think of your lungs
Many (but not all) asthmatics have allergies. Not everyone has pet allergies but for those who do, it can be quite miserable. For me, I don’t have any pet allergies. My allergies are mostly seasonal. If you have pet allergies and are considering a new pet, be sure to absolutely have a conversation with your doctor first.
There are other factors to consider than the pet itself, like bedding it may need and diet it will eat. These are all things that could potentially set off your asthma. Some animals require a specific bedding (like wood shavings or soft fibrous material) that could be a major asthma trigger. I would recommend not having the pet in your bedroom until you are sure it won’t make your lungs irritated.
Staying on top of cleanliness when it comes to taking care of a pet will also be a huge benefit for your lungs. Depending on your pet there are different requirements with cleaning products and such that could potentially set your asthma into a flare-up.
Don’t rush it (if possible)
Patience is not a virtue that comes easily to me. But I have learned over the years that it is super important to not rush into any kind of pet ownership. Take the time to do your research on your potential new pet and make sure it will be a good fit for your individual situation. What works well for me won’t necessarily be the same for you.
Introduce your new friend slowly into your household and be patient and trust the process. Make any changes and adjustments as necessary to have a happy pet as well as happy lungs.
Being as adequately prepared as you can be will make all of the difference in pet ownership when you have asthma. Also, knowing your limitations when it comes to your health and whether a particular potential new friend will work out.
Here is a photo of our new 10 week old giant Flemish rabbit who already weighs 9 lbs!
How does your asthma change with the seasons?