People with Asthma Affected By Sharing Flights with Cats, Dogs

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You wouldn’t choose to seal your child into a metal tube with their most serious asthma trigger, but unfortunately that sometimes happens when you travel on an airplane.

Airplane cabins are often full of furry passengers — both service dogs, and pet dogs and cats who are small enough to ride inside the cabin. This can cause a lot of problems at 30,000 feet, if pet dander is a no-no for someone in your family.

flying with asthma

More and more people are choosing to bring small pets on board with them, rather than stowing them in the cargo hold — which is not temperature-controlled, and has resulted in pet deaths.

In the cabin, pets are required to stay inside their cages — and stowed under the seats — but some owners sneak them out if they get a chance. This further contaminates the airplane, and potentially spreads the dander on the shared pillows, blankets, seat covers, and carpets. Service animals are permitted to lie on the floor by their master.

If your child has asthma, it’s not just a matter of keeping your row pet-free. There is evidence that pet dander can be spread throughout the entire plane, by way of the air circulation system. Experts also say it’s difficult to keep aircrafts free of fur and dander, as most are only cleaned once a day.

Some passengers with asthma will bring their own blankets, wear an air filtration mask, increase their medication, or take extra antihistamines if they know they will be sharing the cabin with a dog or cat. But often, passengers are not aware of the situation until it’s too late.

If your child has attacks that are triggered cat or dog dander, here are a few tips to keep in mind when flying with asthma:

  • Skip the online booking and actually talk to an airline representative while booking your flight. Spell out the details of the asthma, and ask about their pet policies. Will you be notified if an animal will be on board? Is there a way to book a flight that will not include any animals?
  • Pack your own (allergen-friendly) pillow and blanket, so you can skip the scratchy airline varieties that may or may not be teeming with doggie or kitty dander.
  • Keep all asthma medications and inhalers in your carry-on bag, and keep it under the seat in front of you. Bags stowed in the overhead bins are often moved around by the flight attendants, so you don’t want to be searching for yours in an emergency.
  • Talk to the ticket agents and flight attendants as you check in, board, and find your seats. A quick reminder of your child’s asthma — the potential for issues if there are dogs and cats in close proximity — could make all the difference in the world.

Ask questions, make your voice heard, and keep those skies friendly!

H/T to Edmonton Sun

Heather Laura Clarke, a contributing writer at Scratch or Sniff, lives in Nova Scotia, Canada, with her high-school sweetheart husband, seven-year-old son, and five-year-old daughter. She writes for newspapers and magazines across Canada and the U.S., and blogs about her family life at Heather's Handmade Life. Follow her adventures on Twitter or Instagram.

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