Asthma UK community forum
9,876 members16,639 posts

Introduction - new member

Hi, I'm Astra. My 6 year old daughter developed asthma on Christmas Day after we'd been at my parents' for a few hours and she had been playing with their dog. She's never really played with the dog before as she's been scared of it. the last couple of times we've been over she has got closer to the dog and touched him a few times and looking back she was very sneezy afterwards. But on Christmas Day she went really breathless and just went downhill so quickly, it was scary. We spent a couple of hours in casualty that afternoon and again later that night as she went downhill again after going back to my parents' house, the following day, although we left their house and went to my in-laws, we still had to divert via a hospital as she was still really struggling. My husband has asthma and eczema and has to drug himself up to the eyeballs to survive a trip to my folks' but we've never had a problem with our daughter. She gets hayfever but that's all. The thing is, it is blindingly obvious to us what has happened but my parents are fuming with me for ""blaming"" their dog and thereby ruining Christmas!! They are adamant that she has been around the dog since she was a baby and therefore can't be allergic to him. I have tried to argue that in fact she has never touched the dog until recently, and that, anyway, allergies can come on at any time - I didn't get hayfever till I was 27! But they are not having it.

Any thoughts and/or suggestions???


15 Replies

Hi Astra and welcome to AUK.

There is a loverly bunch on this site and quite a few of us will tell you, and will tell your parents if you give us half the chance, that you don't have to get asthma as a child. At 58, I'm probably getting somewhere near your parents age (and probabaly just as stubborn) and I have only been diagnosed this year. Although I am lucky that I am OK around animals, I have found very recently that I can rapidly react to other everyday things that I have never had any rection to previously. (eg Someone else's deodorant at the gym last night - hit me so fast, I was nearly in big trouble, gasping for air in what seemed like just seconds. Lucky I was dressed by then and could get out quick! I only gave up using the same stuff 2-3 years ago.) Show your parents this message. Show them Fluffy's message too about dumping people that refuse to understand. Threaten them with the same - or is that a bit drastic?

Good luck.



Thanks Alan. That's just what I needed to hear. My parents have never been too understanding of my husband's asthma and I'm sure they just think he's neurotic! I don't have the best relationship with them anyway but this whole business has really offended and upset me. How can they put their feelings about their dog before their concern for their granddaughter?? Beats me!!


Hi Astra and welcome to AUK

I've got a little girl who's coming up on 5 and I can find it really hard to deal with some of my families attitudes. I once had a fullblown arguement with a relative cos I wouldn't let them smoke in my house cos of Holly's asthma and another time when we visited, they refused to stop smoking in Holly's prescence or air the living room before we came.

I know it was a drastic solution but when Holly was very ill in hospital one time I asked the particular family member to visit. Once she had seen the effects of Holly's asthma on her she never smoked anywhere near her again.

I hope you can come up with a solution for your problems with your parents and if you ever need to chat, we're always here.

Take care




Thanks Anne, I'm glad I'm not the only one with insensitive rellies! Poor Holly sounds like she really suffers at times.

Alan, can you point me in the direction of the post by fluffy that you mention, I had a look but couldn't find it.

thanks again




welcome, sorry to hear about your daughters problems i have also experienced similar problems and its not an easy situation .

I have reached the stage that i wont go to my mums now , she smokes as does my step-father and despite having seen me ventialeted she wont take a break, yet when she comes to me she manages not to smoke for a few hrs!!!

I know its very difficult but nwould your parents be able to ahve a dog free room where your daughter canhave time away plus they put the dog out and clean before she arrives?

My other mum(im adopted and have a birth and adopted mums!!) has 3 cats to which im highly allergic and she does keep a totally cat free area and although i still ahve to go into areas where the cats go it has reduced the problems. Also i increase my Piriton(antihistamine) prior , during and after a visit to mums.

Hope this helps, feel free to pm me.


Hi Astra

Aah parents - what are we to do with them!!! People and thier pets.

I hope that your daughter is feeling a bit better now she's away from the dog!!

I'm no expert but i'm sure that you have to be exposed to an allergen before it becomes a problem - plus as you say they can come on at any age. I didn't get hayfever until 20ish.

Unfortunately people aren't very sympathetic (in my experience) of allergies - they often see your illness as a personal afront. I'm allergic to perfume - it gives me migranes but that doesn't stop my sister liberally spraying herself before getting in MY car and then moaning when i open all the windows or other people using air freshners/plug-ins.

It's hard to believe that people especially grandparents can put thier dog before their grandchild. My in laws used to smoke in thier kitchen and couldn't understand why i wouldn't allow my baby in their kitchen - ever (this was before he had asthma - i just wouldn't allow him to be in a smoky environment) anyway it took a lot of time and stress especially when they bought a highchair for him to have his lunch - which i calmly carried from upstairs into lounge - wrestling it off my mother in law who wanted it in the kitchen!! Anyway the penny finally dropped and they stopped smoking in the house all together!!!

My sister also has a dog - which although Ollie doesn't seem allergic to but is petrified of - it's a little yappy thing that pulled him over in the summer - although luckily not hurt he was very scared. After a bit of a row and stand off the dog is now put outside when Ollie visits!!!

As your parents saw your daughters attack you would hope that it would make them more understanding. Lets hope so - or like mine they may take time to come round - I found not going round that much helped too.

I hope that you get it sorted or at least get them to understand.

Take care and welcome to the boards.



Thanks for the welcome everyone. This whole area is a bit of a minefield isn't it? And it's made me realise I've not been overly sympathetic towards my husband with his asthma over the years. Suddenly I understand it all so much better and feel a wee bit guilty. I suppose the difference is that he's a grown up and can excuse himself and go out for a drive in the car if he's getting tight which he has frequently done, and he can manage his own meds. My folks say they always vacuum before we go over, but the dog is still running around and shaking fluff around the place so no amount of vacuuming will really prevent problems. I don't think they would consider putting the dog out of the room when we are there, this a creature that has never been put in kennels - they've missed important family events because they need to be there for the dog and will only travel to ""pets welcome"" type holiday accommodation. I could go on but I better not!! On Sunday we are going to visit friends who have cats, so I'm interested to see how little one gets on with that, she may not react at all, but these friends are really worried and will be mortified if their cats make her ill! If only the grandparents cared as much! ;-)



Good heavens you seem to have opened a can of worms! I think it is probably safe to say that any of us with troublesome/life threatening allergies have experienced such strange behaviour and attitudes in what are supposed to be the nearest people to us.

I think people are generally stuck into ruts and will not shift their beliefs even sometimes when they can see the effects that they have on us.

Unfortunately for me i come from a family of 4 children - all pet lovers!!! to all of which I am allergic. Only one set maybe two have any understanding and try to make it easy for me. Dog banned from living room and the other sister will hoover and clean carefully before I arrive. However, one animal loving, horse owning sister will visit my mum and sit on the sofa spreading animal dander etc as she goes and then when I visit I get symptoms.

I avoid going to visit their homes unless I am feeling particularly well - however this had led to feelings of estrangement from my family as apart from animals their other love is going out to eat which due to allergies is almost impossible for me too!!!

I hope that with early interventions things will never get to this stage with your daughter and I feel for your husband - While my husbands parents were alive they smoked loads and this always affected my chest - when my husband tried to talk to them about this his mum actually walked out of the room! I just don't understand.

I try to think how I would react if someone I loved and cared about told me they were allergic to something I love doing - sewing or messing with photos(just to be crazy) I know it would be difficult to believe that someone could have a reaction but I would like to think that i would take it seriously and try to restrict it to one area of the house and obvioulsy not do it when they were around - change clothe sand wash hands. Thinking about it like this perhaps I am asking too much - suresly there is a happy medium though???

Sorry I will just get down off my soap box now.


I hope they start being more understanding soon! I have a similar problem when I'm in the car with my mum - she always insists on having the air conditioning on, which sets my asthma off and makes me need my inhaler. She refuses to have it off and complains that she'll get cold. I've found that its best if its not on as high - but she won't even let me turn it down by one. She even did it on the way home from seeing my cons. This is a bit of a problem as i'm 16 so i can't drive myself yet and although i use buses or walk if possible its not possible to avoid going in the car, especially if we're going longer distances or going out with family. Anybody got any ideas for persuading my mum to keep the air con off / on a lower setting?


It seems like it's a real problem for people, not being taken seriously and I know I've been guilty of it before with my husband for which I feel suitably guilty now! We visited friends with cats yesterday and my daughter had no obvious reaction, but my friend had totally blitzed the place with the vac and locked the cats out of the lounge before we got there to protect my husband anyway so not a real test of my daughter's potential allergies. We're just hoping Christmas was a one-off and that by avoiding the dog we'll be able to keep it under control. My parents still aren't speaking to us though!! Ridiculous!!


They're still not speaking to us - How mad is that???!!!!???!!! I did write to tell my mum how I felt about the situation (being assertive and refusing to be drawn into trading insults) and to explain that asthma is not neurotic but have had no reply. Of course by taking this stance they are cutting off their noses to spite their faces as we certainly won't be going over any time soon until this is resolved in a grown up way, so they won't be seeing their granddaughter any time soon. It's more their loss than mine really, but I do feel angry about it.



Hi Astra. Have only just popped on 1st time after xmas and could not believe your post We have the same problem with my sister in law. My daughter is 9 and last year developed an allergy to dogs but as she has always been afraid of dogs (her nan had one that bit) we are told its just an excuse. She has 4 dogs in a 3bed terraced house!!! I have tried to explain but it makes no difference. In the end I told them they were welcome to come to us but we would not go to them (I asked her to maybe put the dogs upstairs but she said no) The most ironic thing about all of this is her son (who is now 20) had such bad asthma as a child he needed home nebulisers every day so you would think she would understand! ( I have never asked her if she thought her 4 dogs might have been a problem then!)

I know they think I am lying and I really don't understand why they think I would do that, S has been in and out of hospital over the last 6 years so they know I'm not making it all up. I am so sorry for your situation as it is your parents it makes it so much more difficult. I really hope it will sort itself out. Tina


Hi Astra,

Have just read your post and just wanted to tell you that my daughter Emily developed an allergy to our dog after 9 years. To cut a long story short, she was very poorly a few years ago and we asked for RAST tests to be done and they added in dog at our request. To be honest, we werent convinced she was allergic to him but, did it for our own piece of mind. It turned out that her level was off the scale and she was as allergic to him as she could get. An allergy the docs said she had developed. Sadly, we had to part with him but, alot of people gave us a hard time because they didnt believe that she could be allergic to him after all that time. Sadly, dogs arent all she is now allergic to.

People find it hard to comprehend and being family makes it all the more harder for you. Hope that your daughter is feeling better now. I cannot protect Emily from everything that she is allergic to but, like you would never knowingly let her come into contact with dogs. It often causes problems with some of her friends and a few family members, who think 5 minutes wont hurt but, unfortunately it does. Chin up, keep strong and all you can do is what you feel is best for your daughter.

Cathy xxxx


It really is unbelievable isn't it?! My mum has now sent me some photos of my daughter playing on the carpet at their house to ""prove"" that she's always played with the dog and therefore can't be allergic to him ( the dog's not even in the photos!!). I think the issue for me now though isn't so much about whether it is the dog that's causing the allergy but rather about where is the concern my mother should have for my daughter's health and my feelings? For her to continue arguing that it can't be the dog is completely missing the point in my view. We've never had a great relationship, although it had been better since I had my daughter, and now this issue has really reawakened some stuff that I thought was in the past. I really don't know how to resolve the rift that this has caused because my parents are being so completely unreasonable and unwilling to listen to our views. Maybe only time will resolve it but in the meantime they will miss out on time with their granddaughter. But that's their loss.



I have had cats all my life. My last cat was 18 when she died (4 years ago) and she was 16 years old when I became allergic to her. The older and frailer she got the more she wanted to sit on my knee - noone elses. In my case my chest got really tight not full blown attacks but I did put up with the suffering as I could not have parted with her.

Unfortunately you can develop an allergy to anything at any time. Give your parents house a wide berth maybe in time they will realise they have to accept that the dogs are an issue - your daughter's health is more important.


You may also like...