Current Allergy and Asthma Reports

, Volume 5, Issue 3, pp 212-220

First online:

Pets and the development of allergic sensitization

  • Angela SimpsonAffiliated withNorth West Lung Centre, Wythenshawe Hospital
  • , Adnan CustovicAffiliated withNorth West Lung Centre, Wythenshawe Hospital

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Sensitization to pets remains a risk factor for asthma and rhinitis, and can occur in people who have never lived with a pet. Several reports have indicated that living with a pet reduces the risk for becoming sensitized to that pet. Having a pet in the home gives exposure to more than just allergens. In areas with high frequency of pet ownership, community exposure to pet allergens is almost certainly sufficient to induce sensitization among non-pet owners. In this review, we examine the results of recent studies that have investigated the relationship between pet ownership, specific sensitization to that pet, and allergic sensitization in general. For cat ownership, the results are inconsistent between studies of similar design, with some studies suggesting an increase in risk and others a decrease among cat owners. For dogs, results are more consistent, generally suggesting that owning a dog has no effect or indeed may be protective against the development of specific sensitization to dog and allergic sensitization in general.