Pet Allergy and the Truth About Hypoallergenic Pets
Allergies to pets usually cause symptoms that are similar to other types of allergic disorders. People with a pet allergy will likely experience sneezing, wheezing and coughing, runny or stuffy nose, red and itchy eyes, as well as some skin reactions.
If you suspect being allergic to a pet, you may want to perform special allergy testing. Experts recommend getting tested because your reaction may be triggered by pollen, dust mites or mold attached to the animal’s hair, rather than your puppy itself. For instance, dust mites, which is one of the most common allergens for people, tend to accumulate in dog beds or other places where your dog spends most of the time.
Therefore, there are various skin or blood tests available that can help to determine the actual cause of your allergy.
If you or your child is diagnosed with a pet allergy, you should understand how serious this disorder may be. In many cases, the best way to prevent any complications is to find a new home for the pet. Even when you finally say goodbye to your fluffy friend, it may take half a year or more till you get rid of all pet allergens in your home.
How to Control an Allergy to Pet Dander?
Not all families choose to say goodbye to their pet. According to statistics, about 25% of families with pet allergies decide to keep their puppy. In this case, the only option is to limit your exposure to the allergen.
To start with, make sure to keep pets out of your bedroom. If you have carpets or rugs in your house, it’s better to remove those. Play with your puppies outside and wash your hands after touching them. Wash your dog regularly, at least once a week.
If your family wants to get a new pet, but you are worried that your child might be allergic to it, you can first introduce your kid to someone else’s puppy and watch for any reactions. However, if you already know about your child’s pet allergy, it’s better to limit his or her time with the pet at first.
Hypoallergenic Dogs: Myth or Reality?
Unfortunately, there are no dogs that wouldn’t trigger sneezes and sniffles in their pet-allergic owners. Hypoallergenic dogs don’t exist: all dogs, no matter what type of breed or size they are, have allergenic particles in their skins, saliva and pee. The length of your puppy’s hair doesn’t make any change either. Skin dander is probably the most significant pet allergen. It attaches to your pet’s hair and when the hair falls out, the allergen moves to your skin, your clothes or furniture.
However, there are some breeds of dogs, such as the Portuguese water dog, that tend to shed less. If you have one of these, you may experience less symptoms than other allergic pet owners.
What Are the Breeds with “Non-Shedding” Coats?
Dogs considered as “non-shedding” may actually drop one or two hairs or more during the day, but they shed much less than others, which also means that they give off less pet dander.
According to the American Kennel Club, dogs with non-shedding coats include the following:
- Bedlington terrier;
- Bichon frise;
- Chinese crested;
- Irish water spaniel;
- Kerry blue terrier;
- Portuguese water dog;
- Soft-coated wheaten terrier;
- Xoloitzcuintli (Mexican hairless dog).
Various designer dogs mixing different breeds in one have also been quite popular. Some of them, such as labradoodle (mix of Labrador and poodle), are believed to produce less dander.
Which Dogs Tend to Give Off More Allergens?
Apart from the breed of a dog, the level of its allergenicity also depends on its individual characteristics. Thus, if your puppy has dandruff, he (she) will most likely give off more allergens.
Moreover, there are certain breeds that tend to have hereditary problems with dandruff. These include:
- Cocker spaniels;
- Springer spaniels;
- Golden retrievers;
- West Highland white terriers;
- German shepherds;
- Basset hounds.
What About Hypoallergenic Cats?
As with dogs, there are no such cats that can be completely tolerated by someone allergic to cats. No matter how long (or short) the hair of a cat is, you will most likely develop a reaction. Besides, some strong allergens are contained in feline saliva.
Are There Any Allergy-Friendly Animals?
There are some pets that have no fur or feathers, which makes them suitable for those who allergic to pet dander. It can be a turtle, fish, or snake. However, these animals are not risk-free either. Many exotic animals may carry salmonella or other infections.