The term hypoallergenic refers to something that’s less likely to cause allergies than its non-hypoallergenic counterpart. Many people that are allergic to animals find themselves wishing they could have a pet, or in some cases getting a pet regardless and suffering through it. The good news is for some allergy sufferers, a cat or dog is not necessarily out of the question. A number breeds could exist that may not cause some individuals allergies or keep the symptoms at a manageable level. People with allergies are not simply allergic to “dogs” or “cats” but specific proteins associated with these animals. These proteins may be found in the fur, the dander, or the saliva and sensitivity may vary between breeds. There are a number of breeds of both cats and dogs that a purported to be completely hypoallergenic, but the evidence of these claims is lacking.
The truth is that allergies are often unique and what might work for one individual may not work for another. When considering a dog, look for breeds that don’t shed heavily. Dander and fur becoming airborne and trapped in your living space will make allergy symptoms worse. It’s a good idea to keep your home thoroughly clean, vacuuming often and opting for solid floors instead of carpeting if you’re planning on getting a dog. If it’s feasible, consider building a dog house or designating a specific room for the dog to sleep in. Dander can be controlled by frequent baths and proper grooming. If possible, spend some time playing with a pet before taking it home. You may notice an allergy flare-up such as itching or wheezing if a certain breed will be particularly problematic.
There are breeds of cat that have little to no fur that may be beneficial to some allergy sufferers. Many cat allergies, however, are caused by a specific protein that’s found in saliva and skin excretions so this may not be any more hypoallergenic to some individuals. Cats in general are a more difficult pet for people with allergies as they spend more time indoors and groom themselves often, spreading their saliva. Cats with shorter hair do tend to groom themselves less, which may be of some benefit to people with allergies.
Outside of dogs and cats, there are still other options for hypoallergenic pets. Lizards and fish will not usually irritate allergy sufferers. Consider also pets that can be kept outdoors if you live in an area where the weather permits. Indoor pets such as hamsters, guinea pigs or mice can also be a good choice as their living spaces are small and can be easily isolated. Keep in mind that smart allergy practices within the home, such as cleanliness and ensuring proper air circulation go a long way.by