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Cystic Fibrosis & Pets

Wed, 12/23/2015 - 11:03 -- IV Solutions

How do pets affect cystic fibrosis symptoms?

One of the more applicable studies on the effects of pets on people with cystic fibrosis were collected from 703 cystic fibrosis patients through the US CF Twin-Sibling Study. The study involved cystic fibrosis families who raised cats and/or dogs.

An important finding showed that the rate for respiratory infection for cystic fibrosis pet owners was no different than in households without pets. This suggests that, given the proper precautions, pets can be a part of life with cystic fibrosis.

Benefits of Having a Pet

While there are many considerations to keep in mind while finding the right pet for your family, it’s important to remember that everyone is different. You or your child may not have adverse reactions to the types of pets that other people with cystic fibrosis have.

Pets and their owners build a strong connection of unconditional love which has been shown to benefit health from lowering blood pressure to even decreasing the chance of depression.

Pets need an established and consistent daily routine. This fits well into a cystic fibrosis lifestyle. By combining your schedule with that of your pet, you can often avoid forgetting a treatment or missing a medication. In this way, a pet and owner support each other.

Pets, just like people, need exercise. Having a pet that you care about is a terrific motivator to get out every day and work your cardiovascular system. You and your pet become a team that makes sure you’re both getting the exercise you need.

Any pet owner can tell you that pets become best friends. Pets and owners take care of each other, and a bigger support network means better health.

What kind of pet is good for a cystic fibrosis family?

When considering what type of pet to keep in a cystic fibrosis household, one of the first factors people commonly weigh is hypoallergenic pets. A quick search would return animals like, the Sphynx cat, Syrian hamster, turtles, fish, reptiles, Bichon frise, and other non-shedding dogs.

While this is good advice, it is also important not to overlook the other types of issues pets can bring into a household aside from shedding. All pets, regardless of hair type, still produce dander which is a prime factor in allergy response for many people.

Another consideration to take into account is the types of environments they create. While hamsters are small, produce less dander, and do not spread dander around the house, their terrariums can be host to a number of other bacteria and germs that can be particularly detrimental to the health of someone with cystic fibrosis. The same can be said of the water that fills fish and turtle aquariums.

The safest approach to choosing a pet for a cystic fibrosis household is to expose the child to certain types of pets before making a permanent decision to gauge their reaction to that animal. The simplest approach would be to let the child stay in the home of family members or friends who raise a pet that they like and test how their allergies react.

Tips for Cystic Fibrosis & Pets

These are a few points to consider when deciding to raise a pet in a cystic fibrosis household:

  • Avoid keeping pets that live in water
  • Avoid keeping pets with bedding
  • Avoid keeping pets with litter boxes
  • Make sure the pet does not negatively affect your child’s health before committing to raising it
  • Don’t allow pets to interact with stray animals or other pets whose environments you’re unsure of
  • Avoid letting your pet interact with the pet of another CF patient
  • Avoid letting pets lick you on the face or mouth
  • Always wash your hands with soap and water or other sanitizers after handling your pet

Other Cystic Fibrosis Blogs you may like

Cystic Fibrosis & House Cleaning

Cystic fibrosis puts people at a higher risk of opportunistic infection. There are useful cleaning tips that you can use to make sure your home is clean and safe for people with cystic fibrosis.

Cystic Fibrosis Diet

People with cystic fibrosis need to maintain a different diet. It is important for people with cystic fibrosis to consume more calories, fats, and fat-soluble vitamins (A, D, E, & K). 

Cystic Fibrosis & Exercise

Since lung function is such an important aspect of life with cystic fibrosis, it is of the utmost importance that people with cystic fibrosis get plenty of cardiovascular exercise.


Cystic Fibrosis our focus. Cystic Fibrosis Trust. March 2013. Accessed Sept 9, 2015

Cat and Dog Exposure and Respiratory Morbidities in Cystic Fibrosis. July 12, 2014. Accessed Sept 9, 2015

Is a dog really man’s best friend. Foundation Care. July 13, 2011. Accessed Sept 9, 2015

10 of the best pets for allergy sufferers. Mother Nature Network. July 21, 2011. Accessed Sept 9, 2015

Cats, Not Dogs, May Exacerbate Minor Cystic Fibrosis Symptoms. July 23, 2014. Accessed Sept 9, 2015

Cystic Fibrosis and pet ownership. Worms & Germs Blog. July 24, 2014. Accessed Sept 9, 2015

5 Ways Pets Can Improve Your Health. WebMD. April 6, 2004. Accessed Sept 9, 2015

Health Benefits of Dogs (and Cats). HelpGuide. Oct 2015. Accessed Sept 9, 2015