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Can I Still Be a Vet If Pet Dander Triggers My Asthma?

I'm 15. I have asthma that has gotten worse since last year. I just strengthened my medication, but I was wondering: Can I be a veterinarian if I have asthma and pet dander is a trigger for my flare-ups?
- Haden*

It sounds like you take good care of your asthma, and it's great that you know about the things that "trigger" your flare-ups.

Everyone is different when it comes to asthma triggers. For some people, certain triggers can continue to be problems throughout their lives. But as they get older, others might find that a trigger is less likely to cause an asthma flare.

Exposing yourself to pet dander every day could make your asthma symptoms worse. Next time you visit your doctor, ask what he or she thinks about your plan to become a veterinarian, and whether changes in your medications or other treatments — like allergy shots — might help control your pet-dander allergies better. Your doctor knows you and your particular situation best.

Even with new medicines, though, animals with fur could still cause problems for you. But that doesn't mean you can't work with other animals. If feathers don't trigger your symptoms, you could become involved with bird rescue. Or you could specialize in veterinary medicine for aquatic animals like dolphins or sea turtles.

Reviewed by: Julia Brown Lancaster, BSN, RN, CAPA
Date reviewed: January 2012

*Names have been changed to protect user privacy.