The Hype of Hypoallergenic Pets

 The Hype of Hypoallergenic Pets

Actually, many pet choices exist for people who suffer from allergies ranging from the traditional domestic pet (like a dog or cat) to exotics including reptiles and aquatic animals. Some domestic animals produce fewer allergens than others, categorizing them as “hypoallergenic,” or less prone to cause an allergic reaction.

As allergy sufferers know, the most common pet allergy is to pet dander. For this reason, a lot of people may think that longhaired animals equal more dander in the home. This is not necessarily the case, because all warm-blooded animals produce dander, even birds.

People allergic to cats might also react to a protein found in feline saliva called FELD1. Recent developments in science have had promising results in finding a "cat allergy cure." In March, the Journal of Allergy and Clinical Immunology reported a vaccine had been developed, which showed no serious side effects and had reduced the skin’s inflammatory reaction by 40 percent with one single injection. This vaccine is still in the testing phase.

If you already have a pet dog in your home and suffer from spring allergies, you probably have a HEPA air filter and take antihistamines to reduce itchy, watery eyes and a stuffy nose.

It is important to note that there is no 100 percent hypoallergenic pet. Also, the term “hypoallergenic” means less allergens, and is not synonymous with non-allergic. No animal is completely non-allergic, just some have a lower incidence of causing allergies than others.

Whether you already have a pet in the home or want to get one, this article will explore how to select a hypoallergenic pet, how to reduce allergens in the home, and options available as an additional strategy to combat pet allergies.

Dog Breeds

Allergy sufferers who are sensitive to dogs may know pet dander is the main culprit causing their allergic reaction. What’s more, recent studies point to pet dander present in dogs that may worsen hay fever allergy symptoms.

Below is a list of dog breeds that are considered hypoallergenic. petMD does not favor one canine breed over another. These breeds produce fewer allergens, which make them a preferable choice for allergy sufferers. Also, there is no such thing as a 100 percent hypoallergenic pet. The following guideline recommends these canine breeds for people who want to adopt a dog, but are limited by allergies:

  • Airedale Terrier
  • Bichon Frisé
  • Chinese Crested (both hairless and Powderpuff)
  • Kerry Blue Terrier
  • Poodle (standard and miniature)
  • Portuguese Water Dog
  • Soft Coated Wheaten Terrier
  • West Highland White Terrier

Besides selecting a dog that may produce less dander in the home, it is also important to keep your indoor environment as free from airborne pollutants as possible. Use a HEPA air filter and vacuum bags to clean the air and filter out irritants a regular vacuum cleaner does not catch. Grooming your dog is often recommended, and letting them run outside as much as possible greatly reduces your dog shedding inside the home.

Cat Breeds

Want to adopt a cat, but suffer from allergies? Maybe you’ve tried coping by taking antihistamines, and have a HEPA air filter in your home. You may have even heard the term "hypoallergenic pet" but not know it applies to cats.

Some feline breeds exist that are considered "hypoallergenic" or low allergy cats. This is because they produce fewer allergens than others. Cats do produce pet dander, a common allergen, but the culprit for the estimated 10 percent of the population who are allergic to cats may be a protein, Fel d 1, that is present in cat saliva.

Technically, there are no 100 percent hypoallergenic domestic cats or cats that are completely non-allergenic. All cats produce some amount of dander, so you won't find a dander or allergen-free cat. However, there are breeds that produce less of it and therefore make good cats for people with allergies. The following list of "hypoallergenic" cats is a guideline which petMD recommends for people who want to adopt a feline, yet feel options are limited due to allergies:

Popular Hypoallergenic Cats

  • Siberian (Less of the Fel d 1 protein)
  • Balinese (Less of the Fel d 1 protein)
  • Bengal
  • Burmese
  • Colorpoint Shorthair
  • Cornish Rex
  • Devon Rex
  • Javanese
  • Ocicat
  • Oriental Shorthair
  • Russian Blue
  • Siamese
  • Sphynx

Bird Species

Many people think pet dander is limited to furry animals, particularly those with long hair. So it could be frustrating to some would-be pet adoptees to learn, sometimes too late, that our avian friends also produce pet dander.

People who have especially sensitive respiratory systems or suffer from asthma find out only after bringing a pet bird home that birds can trigger allergies, too. If you already suffer from allergies but would like to bring a feathered friend home, here are some birds that are considered “hypoallergenic,” or less prone to induce an allergy attack:

  • Electus
  • Parakeets (or Budgies). Parakeets are a good choice for allergy sufferers as they shed little dander even when they’re molting.
  • Pionus
  • Toucans

Besides using a HEPA air filter and cleaning your home often, you can shower your bird to reduce the pet dander.

Exotic Species

Allergy sufferers who are animal lovers might feel they don’t have the option of adopting a pet due to the severity of their symptoms. Perhaps you’ve walked through the pet store hoping to bring home a pet, and been chased off by the pet dander given off by birds, cats, and dogs. But did you know there are domestic animal breeds, which are considered hypoallergenic, or less prone to induce allergic reactions in allergy sufferers?

Of course no animal is 100 percent hypoallergenic. However, if you suffer from allergies but are considering an exotic pet, why not consider those like the ones listed below:

  • Aquatic pets (such as fish, jellyfish, octopi and seahorses)
  • Emperor Scorpions
  • Ferrets don’t shed dander like other domestic animals do
  • Reptiles
  • Tarantulas

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