The most recent trend in pet ownership is hypoallergenic animals. These are cats and dogs that have been bred specifically for those who suffer from pet allergies. The idea behind these pets is that, since they produce little to no allergens, even those who could never before own a cat or dog due to their allergies, would be able to enjoy the benefits of pet ownership. However, not everyone is on board with this concept. Read on to learn the facts about hypoallergenic pets.
When it comes to hypoallergenic pets, there are certain breeds that are considered to fall under the umbrella. Their status as a hypoallergenic pet is determined by the amount of pet dander they give off. Contrary to popular belief, the dander doesn’t come from the fur itself, but rather from a protein in the saliva and urine of a dog or cat. However, the amount of fur a dog or cat has can affect their hypoallergenic status since less shedding leads to less dander being released into the air.
The following are some of the dog breeds considered to be hypoallergenic:
- Labrador retriever
- Soft-coated wheaten terrier
- Bedlington terrier
- Bichon frise
- Chinese crested
- Irish water spaniel
- Kerry blue terrier
- Portuguese water dog
The following are some of the cat breeds considered to be hypoallergenic:
- Devon Rex
In addition to these breeds, there is also a company called Allerca that has claimed to produce cats and dogs that are allergen-free. The prices of these pets are extremely high (about $7,000-$16,000 each), but the company reports very high satisfaction rates from their customers.
When getting a pet that is considered to be hypoallergenic, there are several benefits that owners can expect.
- First, the reduction in pet dander can seriously reduce their symptoms of pet allergies. For many, this means eyes that are no longer red, itchy, watery or swollen and a lack of nose congestion or runniness.
- It can also reduce coughing, wheezing, shortness of breath and frequent bronchitis as well as skin rashes.
- In addition, these dogs are often chosen by people who have never before been able to own a pet due to their allergies. This can allow them to enjoy the joys of pet ownership without it compromising their quality of life.
In short, it improves the quality of life for those who could never own a pet due to experiencing these symptoms when around dogs or cats.
Despite many reports from allergy sufferers who claim that hypoallergenic pets are the real deal, most scientists agree that there is no such thing as a dog or cat that is completely free of dander. The reasoning behind this statement lies in the origin of the allergens themselves. Pets that barely shed or don’t shed at all still get the allergens from the saliva and urine on their fur and bring those allergens into contact with their owners.
Even a hairless pet, like the Sphynx cat, can still get those allergens on its skin, and particles from the skin can fall off the pet’s body and be suspended in the air or lie on surfaces in the home. In studies, homes with regular dogs and cats and homes with hypoallergenic dogs and cats were found to have no significant differences when it came to the presence of allergens.
Basically, every pet will give off dander – hypoallergenic ones just give off significantly less. However, there’s still a possibility that these animals can trigger allergy symptoms or that they may not be effective at all for those with severe allergies.
Alternatives To Hypoallergenic Pets
Whether your pet is hypoallergenic or not, there are plenty of ways that you can help reduce the presence of pet dander in your home to relieve your allergy symptoms, including:
- Don’t allow the pet in your bedroom since you spend about one-third of your time each day there. Keep the bedroom door closed when not inside.
- Choose a carpet with a low pile for your home.
- Have your carpets steam cleaned frequently.
- Place throw rugs on your carpeted or bare floors in high-traffic areas. Wash these rugs frequently.
- Wear a dust mask when vacuuming.
- Use a vacuum with a HEPA filter.
- Brush your dog or cat regularly. If possible, do the brushing outdoors.
- Give your pet a bath weekly.
- Clean litter boxes frequently.
- Use a HEPA filter in your central heating and air conditioning system.
- Cover vents in the bedroom with a filtering material.
If you have pet allergies, consider spending time with the breed of your choice before purchasing or rescuing a dog or cat. This may give you a better idea of how much their dander will irritate your allergies. Hypoallergenic breeds may not be truly free of allergens, but they may be a suitable alternative for allergy sufferers who long to own a dog or cat.