You may be an avid animal lover, but have never been able to adopt a pet of your own because of allergies. According to the Asthma and Allergy Foundation of America, at least 15 percent of Americans with allergies have trouble being around pets; moreover, allergic adults are more likely to have children with the same issues.
Pet allergies are most often set off by protein in animal skin cells, saliva, or urine. Signs of allergy can be sneezing, runny nose, wheezing, red skin, or itching.
If you are bothered by allergies, your doctor may be able to recommend some over the counter or prescription medication to help. You may also have an easier time owning a pet if you vacuum and dust regularly, which removes dander from the environment, plus use a simple air filter to remove allergens. Keeping one or two rooms of your home off limits to the animal can give your system a break and help it recover from allergic triggers.
Though no breed of animal is truly “hypoallergenic,” several breeds are less likely to cause allergic reactions because they don’t shed as much and spread less dander (skin cells). It’s important to note that hair length isn’t a factor for whether pets trigger allergies, since many breeds on the list have both long and short hair.
Cat breeds less likely to irritate allergies include Balinese, Bengal, Burmese, Colorpoint Shorthair, Cornish Rex, Devon Rex, Javanese, LaPerm, Oriental Shorthair, Russian Blue, Siamese, and Sphynx.
According to the American Kennel Club, dog breeds that generally cause fewer reactions include Bedlington terrier, bichon frise, Chinese crested, Irish water spaniel, Kerry blue terrier, Maltese, poodle, Portuguese water dog, schnauzer, soft-coated Wheaten terrier, and xoloitzcuintli (Mexican hairless dog).
If you have allergies but want a pet of your own, we can also recommend more breeds specifically for your needs at LazyPaw Animal Hospitals.
When considering a pet, spend time with various animals first to see if you have a reaction. For example, if your local animal hospital or vet clinic recommends a specific breed, visit a breeder and have a brief visit with that type of animal. If you don’t have a reaction, or if you are taking allergy medication that seems to work, spend more time with that breed to see if you react before you adopt.
Testing your tolerance to see if your allergies can handle pet parenthood will save you a lot of time and energy, but it will also keep animals out of shelters if you do have a reaction.
If your allergies just can’t be helped, consider a pet reptile or fish, which are proven to be completely hypoallergenic.