Can having a pet trigger my child's asthma?

Q: We just learned our toddler has asthma. Should we get rid of our dog?

A: Nope -- unless your pooch is identified as a trigger for your child's asthma; if not, there's no reason to find him a new home. FYI, the most common asthma triggers in young babies are viruses, because they typically have limited exposure to allergens. But as babies get older, allergens to environmental things like pet dander, dust mites, mold, and pollen become more common. The best thing to do is make an appointment with an allergist, who can help you pinpoint your child's specific asthma triggers. Once you know the culprits, talk to your pediatrician or allergist about ways to minimize your child's exposure. Depending on what the triggers are, your doctor may recommend dust-mite-proof bedding, a dehumidifier, or a special air filter to remove animal dander from the air. --Marguerite Lamb

Originally published in American Baby magazine, April 2005. Updated 2009

Answered by American Baby Team

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