Achoo! What are pet lovers supposed to do?

The Truth Behind “Hypoallergenic Pets”

allergiesAre your kids constantly begging you to get a pet? For some, a dog can be man’s best friend. They can provide companionship, teach responsibility or bond the family together.

But if you experience allergies, bringing any type of pet into the family could be your worst nightmare. Constant sneezing, itchy eyes or other allergy symptoms can truly be bothersome.

Many people suffer from pet allergies, but there have been claims of a hypoallergenic pet. These hypoallergenic pets are said to cause fewer allergy symptoms, by shedding less and releasing fewer danders into the air.

However, Scott & White allergist expert David R. Weldon, MD clearly states, “There is no such thing as a hypoallergenic pet.”

Some dogs are said to be hypoallergic, (meaning below normal or slightly allergenic), simply because the dog sheds less than others. While you may have less dog hair with a nonshedding dog, no dog breed is hypoallergenic.

Don’t be fooled. Pet allergies are not always caused by a dog’s coat or fur, but rather a protein that is in saliva, urine or other secretions. If a cat or dog licks itself frequently, it is more likely to cause a reaction when you are exposed. Then of course, there is the issue with animal hair.

“If the pet has hair, it has dander and dander induces an allergic response,” says Dr. Weldon

Researchers from Detroit focused on collecting dust samples from over 60 dog breeds, 11 of which were considered hypoallergenic dogs to find no real difference between the breeds.

“We found no scientific basis to the claim hypoallergenic dogs have less allergen,” said Christine Cole Johnson, chair of HFH’s Department of Public Health Sciences and senior author of the study.

They studied a variety of breeds, mixed breeds even those claiming to be purebred hypoallergenic dogs.

Pet Lovers Who Struggle with Allergies

It can be depressing news for pet lovers who struggle with allergies.

“Balancing a patient’s desire for affection from the presence of an animal with control of their allergy symptoms is critical,” says Dr. Weldon.

You always have the option to be compliant with what your doctor recommends or not. Dr. Weldon says allergy shots work best for if you have occasional exposure to animal dander, but only with a higher dosage of the allergen. Medication can be helpful, but the best remedy of all is to avoid exposure.

For pet lovers, Dr. Weldon recommends:

  • Keeping the animal out of the house.
  • If your animal is inside, wash them a few times per week with water – you don’t have to give it a sponge bath.
  • Remove all carpeting and throw rugs because carpeting retains animal danders.
  • Don’t allow the animal in the affected patient’s bedroom.

“Once a child or patient starts to develop asthma symptoms due to the animal exposure, then the animal must be removed from the home,” says Dr. Weldon.

About the author

Jill Taylor
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I contribute content and skills as a freelance writer for Baylor Scott & White Health. I enjoy improving our connection with our readers, patients and communities by assisting with a wide range of writing projects.

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Achoo! What are pet lovers supposed to do?