Does holding a fluffy dog make you sneeze and wheeze? If you’re suffering from dreadful allergies, you may think that it’s impossible for you to enjoy the heartwarming companionship offered by adorable pets. But fear not. All hope is not lost, as you can still cuddle that charming little fluffball when you choose the right pet for you.
What Is a Hypoallergenic Pet?
Pet dander — or dead skin cells — is a common, serious trigger for allergy symptoms, and it’s present even in hairless cats and short-haired dogs. According to the Asthma and Allergy Foundation of America (aafa.org/page/pet-dog-cat-allergies.aspx), around three in 10 individuals with allergies experience allergic reactions to dogs and cats, and cat allergies are more common than dog allergies.
Hypoallergenic pets refer to animals that generally produce fewer allergens, leading to lower chances of triggering your allergy symptoms. However, no dog or cat is completely non-allergic. Your immune system naturally responds to proteins found in the dander, saliva or urine of animals to shield your body from illnesses. But in the case of people with pet allergies, their immune systems are more sensitive than others and are thus more prone to react even to harmless animal proteins. Thankfully, you can still care for an animal even if you have pet allergy once you find one that doesn’t cause allergic reactions.
“What are some of the Best Hypoallergenic Animals for Your Family?”
Best Dogs for Allergy Sufferers:
If you’re looking for a dog, the American Kennel Club (akc.org/about/faq-allergies/)
Recommends breeds with a predictable, non-shedding coat that creates less dander. Here are ideal hypoallergenic canine breeds for allergy sufferers:
- Afghan Hound — Typically reserved and composed, Afghan Hounds need regular exercise and grooming. You should bathe and brush your Afghan Hound twice a week to keep pet dander at bay.
- American Hairless Terrier — American Hairless Terriers are smart, energetic dogs that are perfect for kids and teens. They also are ideal for those living in bustling cities, as they require minimal outdoor exercise and do well with a lot of indoor playtime.
- Bedlington Terriers — Regular walks and indoor play can make a Bedlington Terrier fit and happy. If you want a hypoallergenic dog with a wooly coat, this breed is for you.
- Chinese Crested — A Chinese Crested is a wonderful breed if you’re looking for a dog that sheds little to no hair. It’s an attentive and active dog that loves to spend time with its owner.
For cat lovers, the following feline breeds are considered hypoallergenic:
- Siberian Forest — Typically heavier than other cats, a Siberian Forest is strong and thick-coated. This cat breed loves to show affection and play with water.
- Balinese — Balinese cats are single-coated with less shedding. Resembling the Siamese, these cats have bright blue eyes, and they are lively, friendly and intelligent.
- Burmese — If you want an incredibly loyal feline that gives you plenty of affection, a Burmese cat is your best choice. This smart, playful, people-oriented cat is comparable to dogs.
Unknown to many, birds also produce pet dander and may trigger allergy symptoms. But if you really want a feathered companion, you can choose birds that are hypoallergenic. Parakeets, also called budgies, shed minimal dander, making them an excellent option for allergy sufferers. Other recommended hypoallergenic birds include Eclectus, Pionus, and Toucans.
Small, Hypoallergenic Animals:
Aquatic pets are perfect for allergy sufferers, as they stay in the water and require no direct contact. Just make sure you don’t dip your hand in the water to prevent potential infections associated with aquatic environments. You may also opt for a pet reptile, which neither has fur nor the proteins known to cause allergic reactions.
“How to Know If a Pet Is Hypoallergenic?”
Before getting a new pet, especially if you’re planning to adopt a rescued animal, it’s important to determine first if the animal doesn’t trigger your symptoms. To do so, trial and error may be necessary. Visit an animal shelter, a pet store or a friend who has the particular breed you like, and spend time with your chosen animal for up to an hour a few times to check for allergic reactions. If you don’t cough, wheeze or show noticeably swollen body parts, you’ve likely found a hypoallergenic pet that’s suitable for you. Keep in mind to consult your doctor first, especially if you have severe allergies or asthma, to ensure your safety.
Also, before bringing home any pet, make sure you know exactly what you’re allergic to by going to an allergist and getting allergy testing if you haven’t done so already. This helps identify substances that you may need to avoid when choosing your pet’s diet or bedding. Once you get a hypoallergenic pet, make sure to prepare a separate room for it, wash its bed frequently and groom it as needed. By taking extra time and effort, you’ll be able to have fun with your pet without worrying too much about your allergies.