HomeHealthIs dog or cat hair dangerous to the health of little children?

Is dog or cat hair dangerous to the health of little children?

We love the little fluff balls, as they bring fun to our everyday life. It feels great when we make an evening stroll with our partner, and our four-legged companion is running around us happily.

But what happens if you are expecting a baby? Is it true that after the newborn arrives, pets shouldn’t be allowed to live in your home anymore, because their hair can be dangerous for a baby? Well, contrary to popular belief, you don’t have to worry about this.

What happens if the little one ingests hair?

This is perhaps the biggest concern of dog/cat owners. It is certain that no matter how careful you are, when your baby starts to crawl, he or she will swallow some hair. Contrary to common belief, however, this will not cause any harm, as the structure of animal fur is almost identical to that of human hair; both are made up of keratin, which the body can’t digest, so it will be simply discarded from the stomach. For bowel obstruction to happen, the little one should ingest a huge quantity of hair, which is highly unlikely.

Hair can’t get into the liver!

According to common belief, animal fur can get into the liver of the child as well. Well, this is totally wrong: hair can enter only into the stomach. It is also untrue that hair can get into the lungs or into the brain.

Photo: openarms/Flickr.com
Photo: openarms/Flickr.com

The truth behind these misconceptions can be that there’s a parasite living in animals’ coat that is able to penetrate into various organs in humans as well. This is the tapeworm, which can transfer from animals which have not been de-wormed. But after a vet treated our pet expertly, you will not have to worry about this either.

Hair allergy

This problem can be a cause of concern; if your child is allergic to animal hair, you need to find a solution. Actually, your little one doesn’t have an allergic reaction to the hair itself, but to a protein that is present in the animal’s saliva, urine, stool, or in the dandruff in animal hair. In case of cats the protein FEL D1, while in dogs the proteins called CAN F1 and CAN F2 are the cause of the trouble. The symptoms may include nasal congestion, runny nose and eyes, shortness of breath, coughing, wheezing and skin rashes.

Unfortunately, these allergy-causing animal proteins may stay in the environment for months in the dust settled in the apartment on the furniture, walls and clothing. This kind of allergic reaction may be inherited, so if a parent is allergic to animals, children may be too.

A stronger immune system

Studies have shown that children who aren’t allergic to animals will have a stronger immune system, so in the future they will be less likely to develop some kind of respiratory illness or ear infections during the first year of their lives if there’s a pet in your home. In addition, most likely they will not become allergic to the pollen of flowers and grasses, as their immune system will recognize it pretty early which substances are dangerous and which are harmless.