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House Call: Will a Dog Make My Child's Asthma Worse?

Q: My 9-year-old daughter is begging for a dog, but she has asthma. Could a pet make her symptoms worse?

Possibly, though you should consult your daughter’s asthma specialist before making a decision. School-age children who have asthma typically also have allergies, and despite what you may have heard, there is no breed that’s truly hypoallergenic. Still, if her asthma is under control and allergy testing suggests she’s not allergic to dogs, then getting one could be fine. Before you bring Fido home, though, try letting your daughter spend time around him (or a dog of the same breed), and watch for signs of a reaction. (There’s still a small risk she could develop an allergy to her furry new friend later on, but it’s less likely if you take this precaution.) And stay away from cats—they are much more likely to trigger allergies.

Mark Holbreich, M.D., an allergist in Indianapolis

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