23-Month Old Son Allergic to Cats and Dogs

Updated on October 17, 2010
M.B. asks from Marysville, WA
17 answers

I just found out this morning that our son is allergic to cats and dogs, and we have 4 cats and 1 dog. The nurse at the specialist's office says that they don't tell people to get rid of their pets, but the doctor did say that it would be best for him if we did get rid of them. He says that people who are allergic to animals have a 38% chance of getting asthma and since his dad has had asthma all his life, his risks increase. My husband is a huge animal lover, and we've had arguments about the cats ever since our baby was born. I've been feeling like they were a nuisance and cost us too much money. Now I feel kind of guilty and am afraid my husband will throw it back in my face. I'm so sad because I want our baby to enjoy animals, and now his exposure has to be limited. If we keep the animals, it means taking out the carpet in the back room where they stay, constantly cleaning the house, washing his hands and changing clothes a lot, etc. I thought we could just keep the dog, but the doctor says it doesn't matter. Even if we do get rid of all the animals, they say that it can take 2-5 years to get all of the dander out of the house. Has anybody else gone through this and what did you do? I really dread telling my husband this...

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answers from Boise on

It is hard not knowing how allergic your son is. I am allergic to both cats and dogs and have had them my whole life. If I am away for any amount of time, and come back, I have reactions, but after about 3 days, I am good again. My husband was the same way. He never had a cat before we met and was allergic to them, but he now has no problem. I think that growing up with animals is a great thing, but your son is the priority. If there is anyway to make it all work together, that would be great.

1 mom found this helpful


answers from Dallas on

We found out my son was allergic to dogs and cats last year at the same age as your son. he also has several food allergies but his worst allergy was dogs. One of our dogs had just passed away and I seriously cried when the pedi told me he was allergic to dogs - my dog is my other baby! BUT - that being said - there is a lot you can do to make your house safer for your son. We have increased our vacuuming, we try to keep the dog out of his bedroom, we bought Allerpet spray that you can spray on the pets to neutralize their dander, and got an air purifier for his room. All of this has helped immensely - and we have been able to keep our dog. So before you have to give the pets away - you could try some of these things out and see if they will help. Good luck - hope it all waorks out OK!

1 mom found this helpful


answers from Dallas on

I had allergies to dogs and cats growing up and my mom had to do extra cleaning so we could keep them. we had special air filters and i chose to continue allergy shots to keep them. now I have my own 2 cats and one dog. my allergies have gotton better and I do not take the shots anymore. I would never forgive my parents if they got rid of part of our family. you made a commitment to the animals you took into your house. so if it means extra cleaning then so be it. what kind of lesson would it be to a child to teach them that if you have to put out extra time and money for something you promised to love then it is better to just dump them. I know you want to do what is best for your son but it is better for him to grow up with animals. It helped with my allergies.



answers from Spartanburg on

I feel for you! We (me, husband, 4 and 2 yr old) do not have any pets. I would be all about a cat or two BUT my husband is highly allergic and has been ALL HIS LIFE. He got his first pet at 1 yr and he has stuggled with allergies (both food and environmental) and asthma since then. Of course the dog was not the cause but it was a trigger and everything cascaded from there. (Not saying that the same thing will happen with yours) We have delayed dairy and wheat products AND animals in the home for our kids b/c of his history. We visit once a week (all day) and both kids spend the night a couple times a month at my MIL, they have 4 dogs that stay in the house 24/7, and the kids have no signs of allergies. My oldest actually "got" a puppy for her 1st bday, given by MIL, but the dog lives at MIL house! Basically, I feel my kids love animals and get plenty of exposure to them, without them living in our home! Maybe outdoor cats? I had an outdoor cat growing up that I loved and still have pics displayed 8 yrs after she died. I feel I was attached and loved her as much as I would have had she slept in bed with me. I hope this helps... kids not meshing with pets we love can be so hard to deal with. Good Luck!



answers from Portland on

Have you ever considered air purifiers? There are tons on the market but very few do any good. You will have to really study up on which is best for you and your family.

also, I have found that the cleaning products you use in your house will cause allergies to a lot of things. Try to use non-toxic cleaning products. There is very few out there and most are expensive.

Shaklee makes non-toxic cleaners that are really inexpensive and they have been green for over 50 years. You might check them out. This should help your son.

Babies immune system cannot tolerate a lot of chemicals and the cleaning products in the grocery stores are chemicals. This may be one reason why your son has started getting allergies.

I have seen miraculous results using Shaklee products. If you are interested you can go to http://nontoxiccleaners.myshaklee.com

Health and Wellness Coach



answers from Cincinnati on

How allergic is your son? I am allergic to dogs and own 3. I handle it by bathing them regularly, keeping my home clean, taking meds, and using a neti pot. Over the years owning dogs, my allergies have gone from moderate to mild, possibly due to exposure. My allergist told me the opposite would happen...but he was wrong.

This may NOT be the case for your son. If his allergies are severe, it probably isn't worth the risk. If not, though, you might start off with the limited-exposure-extra-work plan and see what happens. Especially since it will take years to get the dander out of the house.

This is a very tough situation, and one of my nightmares. My heart goes out to you.



answers from Anchorage on

Okay, so the doctor told you it doesn't matter one way or the other? Really, I can not emphasize enough the value of having pets at a young age. They teach gentleness, responsibility and so many other things. Now, I say this as the owner of three big dogs and used to have a cat. (We couldn't bring him with us when we moved :( ) . Anyway...I grew up allergic to everything..outside and in..dust, molds, grass, trees, weeds, flowers, cats, dogs, cows, (yet not lactose intolerant..just the fur)..and I lived on a dairy farm when this diagnosis came. I've grown out of about half of them with time and tolerance build up. If your son has issues..see what causes the issues..does he let the cats rub his face? Then you need to make sure they don't do that. Dogs and cats are very trainable..you can train them to stay off of things your son is on. He can sit on the floor, or play in the yards with the dogs. Dogs and kids should not sleep together of course..neither should cats. We tie our dogs to their separate beds at night and the kids let them out first thing when they get up. Your son might be too young for that but he can learn their habits eventually. It seems wrong to oust animals from their homes just because something is wrong with us that we refuse to adapt too. Cats don't take a lot of maintenance really. If you want to reduce shedding then maybe ask your hubby to start adapting them to a comb, or maybe twice a year take them to a groomer who will reduce their coats..especially indoor cats do not need as much winter hair as outdoor cats. With the dogs, again..cleanliness is important but dogs keep themselves cleaner than you think. Dirt you can see is dirt that does often come off with time. But..longer coated dogs take more maintenance. If it won't harm the dog temperature wise..reduce the coat..(you can a dog shaved fairly cheaply and many do it this time of year so the new winter coat grows in clean and mat free). But brushing a dog three times a week for a half hour can greatly reduce shedding. If they are heavy shedders add a couple of tablespoons of fish oil to the dog's food and to the cat's food..it will help and make them look very pretty :)

It does sound like you didn't want the cats around as it is..but I assure you they did not MAKE him allergic to anything...he was born with it. They will not give him asthma..he might develop it. Pets all and all are worth the trouble if you love them.

My advice is keep the pets. Your husband loves the cats so let him have his cats..with rules of course...he must clean the litter boxes..scoop daily! (And you must pick up the slack if he doesn't of course but then again..all part of owning pets anyway). Dogs should be trained positively so that changes in rules don't become "stay away from everyone" rules and make sure they are exercised enough through play and walks etc so that training them won't be a huge chore.

I work at a doggy daycare and many of the people that bring dogs in have issues with their pets of one kind or another. One last thing..don't go trying to bathe the cats and dog once a week or anything..it will give them sensitive skin which will cause itching etc. Dogs don't need bathing but every four to six weeks unless they live somewhere where they get very muddy and cats rarely NEED bathing but a good grooming once or twice a year never hurt them. Also remember if you groom a cat..never cut the hair on the face as you can easily cut a whisker which can be very painful for some. Good luck..main thing is just help him learn not to touch his face and help the pets learn to not touch his face. That's the best way to keep allergens out of his face. That's what I did with cats and dogs..and now I regularly have one or the other curled up near my ear on daily basis. I take meds for my other allergies..I out grew most of my animal allergies.



answers from Seattle on

Ultimately, this is a very personal desicion. I would sit down with hubby when kiddo is not around or is asleep. I would tell him that you are upset about this situation and don't want to be the bearer of bad news, but this is the reality of what is going on with your son. It does sound like living among the animals may not be ideal for your son. That being said, my mother has allergies and we had dogs and cats growing up. The pets were outside or in our laundry room - which had sealed brick floors. My older brother and I were in charge of cleaning the room 2 times per week, and my mom would do laundry that afternoon that we cleaned. We never kept the dirty or clean laundry in the room. This worked well to minimize her exposure and still enjoy pets. I also know many families who have made the decision to have their pets become outside pets when their child was diagnosed with allergies.

Basically, if I were you, I would consider what is in the best interest of each family member. Maybe you have an older cat who would not handle rehoming well, and a couple younger cats who you decide to rehome. I would look at what the best option is for each pet - stay/rehome/go outside, all the facts given to you by your doctor, the severity of your child's allergies, and your home set up (ie do you have tile floors or carpeting? are you willing to investr in hard core air filters, etc) and then make this hard decision with your husband.

Good luck!!!!



answers from Portland on

Wow i am pretty surprised by all the pelple telling you to keep ur animals and let ur son suffer and possibly get asthma. Ur son cant speak well for hinself ur are sjpposed to be his advocate his champeon. U r not supposed to endanger him. Its great that keeping their pets worked for some people but it doesnt work for others i was allergi. To cats growing up and my parents kept the cat...i probably even wanted them to but looking back at it i suffered a lot for that cat and it was totally unecessary. Btw there is no way to contain ths dander it gets in the air...u cant clean the pets away while they still live there. Part of being a parent is making sacrifices this is ur job to give away ur animals it is not ur sons job to sacrifice his quality of life for some animals that most likely will be dead and gone before he is even grown. The health of ur child is more important. Belieeve it or not craigslist is a gear way to find a new loving family for ur pets
My friend put her cat on there and had two people interested in adopting it. She interviewed both and chose the best home for her cat. The lady she gave her cat to gave her home and work address and sent a few email updates on how Kitty adjusted to her new home



answers from Kansas City on

Maybe your husband could come to a followup appointment with the allergist and let the doctor break it to him?


answers from Tampa on

I'd keep the pets, and treat your son with zyrtec, claritin, benedryl or a mixture of all 3. i'm very allergic to animals, and I have 6 cats and fostering 5 more. I pet every friendly animal I meet... animals are a wonderful addition to a family and help children learn empathy and responsibility. Unless your some is so severe that no allergy med would help, or his trachea closes and he cannot breathe - then getting rid of the animals simply because of a possibility is not the best solution.

When you get an animal - you get them in the faith that they will be yours until their death, not to give them away at the first inconvenience. Some of these posters below I am shocked that they are so for a disposable animal policy... most animals you bring to the shelters or pounds that are NOT kittens or puppies will not get adopted and killed.

With the cats... use a wet washcloth (one for each animal) twice a day to stroke them down all over. This removes most of the dander (saliva) on the fur as well as upgrade to HEPA filters in the house and maybe a small heavy duty air purifier in his room.


answers from Portland on

Personally I would value the health of my son over having pets. I'm allergic to cats, dogs, & bunnies and wouldn't as an adult want to live in a house with something that made me sick. I have asthma when in a house with cats for more than 20 minutes.
Find good homes for the animals and throughly clean your house. I would take out the carpets too. You can enjoy animals from afar.



answers from Portland on

Hi M.,
My daughter was diagnosed with asthma when she was 2 yo. We also have 2 cats, bengals with short hair and almost never shading. We noticed shortly after she start the treatments with steroids that she's getting worse when around cats. She had an asthma attack when she was over night at grandma, who HAD a long haired cat. Now I'm kind of thinking that maybe she actually was allergic to animals even before she had asthma, we just didn't notice. My both cats are only outdoor now and I see a huge improvement in her breathing. We continue with the inhalers as a preventive measure. If i were you I would not let my child around cats and dogs starting "yesterday". You don't want to see your child suffer. When my daughter had her allergen tests done it came negative for animals, but i know what I see. It will take a few months to a year to get rid of the hair, maybe more... We have Dyson, and my MIL had to replace all her carpets. We are going to move next year in a new home and I hope we'll be able to stop the inhalers. Please get rid of the animals before you start regretting. My daughter is 3 and she comes and tells me that she played with the cat and now she needs medication because she cannot breath, it brakes my heart.



answers from Eugene on

In my house, I'm allergic and my daughter had asthma but my kids wanted the cats. Here's how we manage it. Our cats are indoor only, so they don't track in more allergens from outside. They get a bath once a week. They get wiped down in-between with a washcloth and some spray product we found at the pet store. We vaccuum twice a week. We use masking tape and lint brush to get the hair off our clothes. We also have a cat gate made from plywood and self-closing hinges from home depot. It fits across our stairs so the cats stay downstairs where we have hardwood/tile floors. No cats on the carpet or in bedrooms. Our doctor said that keeping the bedrooms allergen free has the biggest impact, since we are closed up in that room for a third of our lives and being in a clean environment 8 hours a day gives your immune system a rest. Something like that. Anyway, our bedrooms have minimal furniture and an air filtering system. Even so, I still find puffs of cat hair floating around and up the stairs, and I have to wash my hands after petting any animal. But for us it's worth it because we love our cats and will probably always have them.



answers from Chicago on

I can't even imagine keeping the animals in a house with a child who is allergic--that is a recipe for disaster, not to mention how miserable your son must feel, but is just too young to articulate that. Sorry you are an animal lover, but people come first. Those pets should have been gone like yesterday. Are you really going to take the chance your kid develops asthma? This post made me sad for your son.



answers from Chicago on

So sorry to hear that :-(

I would probably start off with NOT getting rid of the animals and see if you can get your husband on board just with the extra work.

So, I would start with
"well, we met with the allergist and it turns out Little Johnny is allergic to all pet dander. Here are the things we need to do to make it safe for our son......" Don't even MENTION getting rid of the animals.

instead - devise a schedule of everything that has to be done to clean the house, eliminate the carpet etc etc etc.
Then you can discuss the schedule for clothing changes, hand washings, how to isolate the animals so they don't sit on the couches anymore etc.

At some point HOPE that he sees how much extra work it will be for HIM as well and he will reach his own conclusion that the pets may need to find alternative homes.

Just to throw this out there - my brother was allergic to pet dander and fur. We got a shih-tzu because they have HAIR not fur, so they don't generally cause an allergic reaction (depends on the allergy - I would ask). Just something to think about if your hubs is die-hard animal lover asking him go without animals may be too much. But "suggesting" an animal that your husband/son could love that won't cause the health issues is a testiment to how supportive you are!!!!!!!

Good Luck!



answers from Anchorage on

Well I would try one last thing - if it works for you, than you can keep the dogs/cats, it if does not work, than you need to get rid of them for the sake of your child. This is your 'last thing' to try - it sounds nutty to those unfamiliar with this technique, but we tried it and it worked. Google: muscle testing for allergies - you will find a ton of articles on this. Then find someone in your town who will do this, there are NO harmful medicines or injections - nothing of the sort, but this does work for allergies and many other things (like food addictions, etc.) Here I have one link I just found:


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