The American College of Allergy, Asthma, and Immunology appreciates that approximately ten million pet parents are actually allergic to their own furry friends. For some people who are aware of their allergy but still love dogs, it would be a great idea if they could opt for something called a hypoallergenic breed.
But is there such a thing? Well, no. This is the hard truth. No dog is truly hypoallergenic.
What causes dog allergies?
When people develop an allergy to their pet, they most often develop an allergy to their saliva and, more importantly, canine dander. Even dogs that might seem like they have no hair at all or that don’t shed have potentially allergy-triggering proteins in their saliva and dander.
Various studies have found that there aren’t particular differences between allergens present in people’s homes where so-called hypoallergenic dogs live and those where regular dogs live. Of course, more research is always necessary to draw the correct conclusion. But the results should tell people who’ve always believed that they can be dog parents that they shouldn’t think that one breed might be better than another.
Most people who have a pet dander or saliva allergy experience symptoms such as a runny nose, itchy eyes, sneezing, congestion, or, worst of all, asthma attacks. You can also develop hives if you’ve come in contact with a dog if you have an allergy.
How should a hypoallergenic dog be?
While all dogs produce the same proteins, shedding dogs do release more dog hair into their environment. This means that the environment eventually gets contaminated with a buildup of hair, dust, and debris, and even though you might try to deal with regular cleaning as best as possible, you might still not be able to remove all the dog dander in your home.
Breeds that don’t shed as much hair, by comparison, don’t cause the same allergic response in their guardians. If you have a specific allergy to dog hair, you might experience milder symptoms if you get a so-called hypoallergenic breed, but that doesn’t mean that they aren’t going to exist at all.
Also, if you are allergic to the proteins present in a dog’s saliva, having a ‘hypoallergenic’ dog breed is not going to do anything for you.
If there aren’t any hypoallergenic dogs, what then?
Not all is lost. If you have an allergy to dog hair and dander, you can at least get a low-shedding dog breed or a (technically) hairless dog. Here are some breeds that are going to be easier on you if you know that you have a dog allergy.
- American Hairless Terrier
- Miniature Schnauzer
- Miniature Poodle
- Peruvian Inca Orchid
- Yorkshire Terrier
What other options do you have?
There is also the likelihood of you developing a dog allergy even if you’ve had the same canine companion for many years. Sometimes, people’s immune systems work in wondrous ways, so you never know what to expect in this sense.
If that does happen, you will probably not choose to give up your canine friend. So what should you do, then? Can you live with your allergy and still have a dog? Yes.
First of all, there are some medications that you can take, whether OTCs or not. You should go to a doctor and find out exactly what you are allergic to, first and foremost. Your doctor could prescribe antihistamines, corticosteroids, decongestants, or leukotriene modifiers.
However, taking medicine over a long period of time isn’t necessarily a good idea, especially not the same type. You have to keep track of your health and go in for regular bloodwork to make sure that your liver and kidneys are actually functioning properly when you take drugs every day.
Immunotherapy is another solution, but it’s long-term. In this case, you’d be administered a very low dose of the allergen every two to three weeks over the course of several years until you basically become immune to it.
The first and obvious piece of advice that you should consider would be not to get a dog in the first place if you are allergic. If you really want one, though, you can opt for immunotherapy as it is safer, and even though it takes a rather long time to provide results, you will be able to get a dog at one point in the future.
If you already have a dog and your allergy isn’t severe, there are some environmental changes that you can put in place, and that can change your life for the better.
Although these measures can be hard, if not impossible, you can adopt them. You could try to keep your canine friend out of the bedroom or restrict his/her access to some parts of your home where you tend to spend a lot of time. Wash your hands after each interaction with your canine friend and give your dog regular baths.
There are pet dander sprays available for sale, and also waterless shampoos. These products do a pretty good job when it comes to eliminating dander, and the best thing about them is that they do not create a pH imbalance in your dog’s skin, as a regular bath would. Don’t bathe your dog with water and shampoo more often than once every two weeks.
Using a high-efficiency vacuum cleaner and a HEPA cleaner at all times can also help you remove the allergens from the environment. To clean your floors more quickly and effectively, choose carpet-free flooring. If the weather allows it, don’t hesitate to keep your dog outside, and get him or her a dog house, too.
Even though no dog is truly hypoallergenic, there are some ways you can circumvent your allergy symptoms if you truly want to have a canine companion. If you really care for your health and you want to get a dog in the future, choose immunotherapy, although it offers results after a long time.
If you are allergic to dogs, it’s quite likely that you might be allergic to different types of dander, such as those produced by cats or other pets, like guinea pigs.