Background: Household animal dander has been implicated as aeroallergen in childhood
atopic diseases. Many parents seek healthcare advice if household pet keeping may be detrimental
in atopic eczema (AE), allergic rhinitis and asthma.
Aim: We investigated if skin sensitization by cat/dog dander was associated with disease severity
and quality of life in children with AE.
Methods: Demographics, skin prick test (SPT) results, disease severity (Nottingham eczema
severity score NESS), Children Dermatology Life Quality Index (CDLQI), blood IgE and
eosinophil counts of a cohort of AE patients were reviewed.
Results: 325 AE patients followed at a pediatric dermatology clinic were evaluated. Personal
history of asthma was lowest (20%) in the dog-dander-positive-group but highest (61%) in bothcat-
and-dog-dander-positive group (p=0.007). Binomial logistic regression ascertained that catdander
sensitization was associated with increasing age (adjusted odds ratio [aOR], 1.056; 95%
Confidence Interval [CI], 1.006 to 1.109; p=0.029), dust-mite sensitization (aOR, 4.625; 95% CI,
1.444 to 14.815; p=0.010), food-allergen sensitization (aOR, 2.330; 95% CI, 1.259 to 4.310;
p=0.007) and keeping-cat-ever (aOR, 7.325; 95% CI, 1.193 to 44.971; p=0.032); whereas dogdander
sensitization was associated with dust-mite sensitization (aOR, 9.091; 95% CI, 1.148 to
71.980; p=0.037), food-allergen sensitization (aOR, 3.568; 95% CI, 1.341 to 9.492; p=0.011) and
keeping-dog-ever (aOR, 6.809; 95% CI, 2.179 to 21.281; p=0.001). However, neither cat nor dog
sensitization were associated with asthma, allergic rhinitis, parental or sibling atopic status, disease
severity or quality of life.
Conclusion: Physicians should advise parents that there is no direct correlation between AE
severity, quality of life, asthma or allergic rhinitis with cutaneous sensitization to cats or dogs.
Sensitized patients especially those with concomitant asthma and severe symptoms may consider
non-furry alternatives if they plan to have a pet. Highly sensitized individuals, especially those with
asthma co-morbidity, may have to remove their pet for a trial period to determine if symptoms