If you instantly react to the presence of pets or any animal close to you by sneezing, a runny nose, coughing, or itching, you may have pet allergies. But you are not alone. In fact, according to the AAFA (Asthma and Allergy Foundation of America), about 33% of people with allergies are allergic to cats and/ or dogs. If you are allergic to dogs or cats and still want a pet, we recommend you get yourself hypoallergenic pets.
What are Pet Allergies?
They are your body’s exaggerated immune response to proteins found in an animal’s saliva, urine, or skin cells. This is a very common type of allergy and it mainly occurs in people with asthma. It has been shown to be hereditary, so your parents might have had the same condition.
Symptoms of Pet Allergies
If you experience at least 3 of the signs below, you are likely having pet allergies.
- Itchy, red, and watery eyes
- Puffy eyes
- Running or stuffy nose
- Skin rash or hives
- Chest, difficulty breathing, and wheezing
- Facial pain (around the nose area)
How Are Pet Allergies Diagnosed?
It’s important to know the exact cause of your allergies and not blame them on the cat or the dog. These symptoms may be caused by environmental exposures other than your pet like spring allergies caused by pollen, for instance.
If you suspect that you might be suffering from dog or cat allergies, visit your physician/ allergist. He/ She will perform a skin-prick test, where a small amount of dog or cat allergen extract is introduced under the skin’s surface using a fine needle. That area of the skin will then be observed for any inflammation (redness, swelling, heat, pain). This test normally takes only 15 – 20 minutes.
How are Dog and Cat Allergies Treated?
Your physician or allergist will start you on a treatment plan depending on the symptoms you are showing.
An allergic reaction is a rapid immune response (acute hypersensitivity reaction) your body is showing to substances/ compounds it’s not familiar with.
So, the aim of all treatment plans will be to lessen the effects of inflammatory substances produced by your body. Antihistamines or Corticosteroids serve this function best.
Therefore, eye symptoms are treated with corticosteroid or antihistamine drops. Nasal symptoms with nasal drops or sprays containing the same. The same goes for respiratory symptoms (asthma), in addition to bronchodilators.
Allergy shots have been shown to be effective too. Immunotherapy will help your body build a tolerance to allergens. This means that you’ll be exposed to increasing dosages of the allergens until you’re completely resistant to them.
How to Manage Pet Allergies
The best way to avoid pet allergies is to completely steer clear of pets in the first place.
What If I Love Pets And I Want To Keep Them?
If you still want to keep pets or someone/ everyone else in the house loves them, here are some options to lessen the effects of the allergens the pets produce.
- Get yourself one of the hypoallergenic pets we have on our list.
- Have them washed and groomed regularly so that they shed less fur, dander, and saliva.
- Clean up after your pet. To reduce the allergen load in your home, give their beddings a regular bath (twice weekly works just fine).
- Vacuum-clean your house regularly using a high-efficiency vacuum cleaner. Alternatively, you should install a HEPAC (High Particulate Air Cleaner) in your house to reduce airborne allergen levels. Remember to wear a dust mask when vacuuming.
- Keep your home uncluttered. Animal allergens like to rest on your furniture, and especially love carpets. So bare floors and minimal rooms will work best for you.
- Restrict your pets’ movement and by all means, keep it out of your bedroom.
- I’d advise you to not pet, kiss, or hug your cat or dog, but what’s the point of keeping a pet then?
- Change your clothes after petting or playing with your pet for a long time.
- To lessen the symptoms of pet allergies, you need to have antihistamines, nasal sprays, and bronchodilators, just in case.
- You should also get allergy shots. Immunotherapy is a great way to get your body used to substances/ compounds it didn’t previously know.
Interesting Facts About Pet Allergies
- About one-third of Americans with allergies are allergic to their pets.
- Cat allergies are twice as common as dog allergies.
- There aren’t any hypoallergenic cat or dog breeds, in the strictest sense. However, there are cat and dog breeds that shed way fewer allergens, loosely referred to as hypoallergenic cat or dog breeds.
- You aren’t allergic to your pet’s fur. Your body reacts to proteins found in your pet’s dander, saliva, or urine.
- Pet birds can also cause allergies like your dog or cat. In fact, you can show symptoms of pet allergies to exotic pets too.
Are There Hypoallergenic Cat and Dogs?
Let’s get this straight, right off the bat – all cats and dogs shed allergens. However, there are breeds of cats and dogs that shed way fewer proteins through saliva, urine, and dander which technically makes them “hypoallergenic”, if we loosely use the term.
Different people will react differently to the various cat or dog breeds, with some causing a more severe allergic reaction than others.
It is therefore a good idea to spend time with different breeds to get a measure of how you react to them.
Which are the best dogs or cats for allergy sufferers?
For anyone with dog or cat allergies, we recommend dogs with the following characteristics.
- Have short, single-layered coats – no undercoat means less dander.
- Don’t/ Shed way less – a non-shedding coat is more stable and produces less dander.
- Have no hair – and hence little to no dander sticks to them.
Here’s a list of some of the best hypoallergenic pets to adopt if you suffer from allergies.
List of Hypoallergenic Cat Breeds
- Sphynx cats – No hair to trap the allergen in the cat saliva means no allergic reactions. This makes it one of the most hypoallergenic pets to adopt.
- Donskoy – this is a hairless Russian cat breed that traps the Fel D1 protein in their skin hence less allergen is left around.
- Oriental shorthair – they have a short, one-layered fur coat and this means they shed little Fel D1 protein.
- Colorpoint shorthair – A cross between the Siamese and the American shorthair, the Colorpoint shorthair shares hypoallergenic characteristics with the Siamese.
- Javanese – have a medium to long topcoat and no undercoat which means they shed fewer cat allergens into the air.
- Bengal Cats – These playful, wild, domesticated cats are hypoallergenic too. Their fur requires less maintenance so they spend less time grooming and therefore leave less of the Fel D1 allergen.
- Balinese – These cats produce less of the Fel D1 protein, therefore, causing fewer cat allergies.
- Cornish Rex – they have a short single coat meaning they shed less fur and hence leave less of the cat allergen around the house.
- Devon Rex – Almost similar to the Cornish Rex, the Devon has shorter fur than its cousin.
- LaPerm – their curly coats shed a lot less compared to other cats making them one of the best short-haired, hypoallergenic cat breeds.
- Russian blue – Their grey-blue short fur sheds very little and hence are hypoallergenic cats.
- Siberian – A wonderful long-haired hypoallergenic cat.
- Siamese cat – This vocal kitty is also considered to be one of the best hypoallergenic pets. They have short coats that require very little maintenance and hence leave less of the cat allergen.
- Burmese – They produce little Fel D1 protein making them great hypoallergenic pets.
- Ocicat – The perfect hypoallergenic companion.
- Oriental longhair
- American Wirehair
Cat Breeds To Avoid
High-shedders are not the breeds of cats you should get if you’re allergic to cats. The fur they shed traps the allergen in their saliva. Some high-shedding cat breeds include Manx, Maine coon, Persian, Cymric, Himalayan, and Norwegian forest cats.
List of Hypoallergenic Dog Breeds
Large Hypoallergenic Dog Breeds
- Barbet – This waterdog is a close relative of the poodle. This dog doesn’t shed like other dogs because it has hair rather than fur.
- Irish Water Spaniel – it’s the tallest of the spaniels. This dog was bred as a hunting dog known for its distinctive flat tail (rat tail) which helps it to swim.
- Portuguese Waterdog – They have a fluffy, black single coat which means less fur and dander shed, making them one of the best hypoallergenic dogs.
Medium-sized Hypoallergenic Dog Breeds
- Basenji – it’s a short-haired hypoallergenic dog with origins from Central Africa. Also, it hardly sheds making it a great companion for people with dog allergies.
- Afghan hound – This confident, independent dog has a long, silky coat and no undercoat making them great hypoallergenic dogs. They are sweet, loving, and goofy dog show regulars.
- Havanese – This is Cuba’s national dog. It has also has long, silky fur that sheds little.
- Scottish terrier – Scotties are hypoallergenic dogs, full of personality. These hardworking dogs are known for their unique head shape and beard-like facial fur.
- Schnauzer – Both the Standard and the Miniature Schnauzer are hypoallergenic dogs. They have a top wiry coat and a soft undercoat which hardly sheds.
- Bedlington terrier – This is a unique hypoallergenic dog breed originating from a mining town of the same name where it was first bred. Its fleecy coat gives it a sheep-like look.
- Goldendoodle – This Golden Retriever – Poodle mix retains the bouncy, curly Poodle coat which is majorly hypoallergenic.
Miniature Hypoallergenic Dog Breeds
- Poodle – this highly sought-after pooch has lovely, curly locks and no undercoat which makes it one of the best hypoallergenic dog breeds.
- Bichon Frise – this loving dog has curly, white poofy coats that shed little making them great hypoallergenic dogs.
- Maltese – they are happy lapdogs know for their straight, white, beautiful locks.
- Affenpinscher (Monkey terrier) – it’s a unique dog breed that makes a wonderful lap dog.
- Yorkshire terrier – This protective toy breed makes wonderful guard dogs and is also great for people with dog allergies.
- Bolognese (Bichon Bolognese) – This is a small Italian dog breed with a long, cotton-like coat. It’s a close relative of the Bichon Frise.
- Shih-Tzu – They have long, silky hair instead of fur making them great for people with dog allergies.
- West highland white terrier – Westies are little lovable white dogs with bright personalities great for families and people with dog allergies.
- Lhasa Apso – these are great indoor dogs. They have a dense double coat making them shed less airborne dog allergens.
- Coton de Tulear – This French dog breed has a long cotton-like coat that sheds way fewer dog allergens.
- Brussels Griffon – Griffs are short-haired hypoallergenic dogs liked for their entertaining nature and human-like facial expressions.
Hypoallergenic Hairless Dog Breeds
Apart from their uniqueness, they are also one of the best hypoallergenic pets you can adopt.
1. American hairless terrier – is a classic hypoallergenic dog breed because it is doesn’t have hair or fur. This means that it sheds very little allergenic dander.
2. Xolouitzuintlis – This Mexican hairless dog breed is great for people with allergies.
3. Peruvian Inca orchid – the Inca orchid is a unique, hairless dog breed that comes in different sizes.
4. Chinese crested – They have tiny hairless bodies with hair only on their extremities, ears, and head.
Dog Breeds To Avoid
Here’s a list of high-shedding dog breeds that shed the most.
- Alaskan malamute
- American Eskimo
- Cardigan Welsh Corgi
- Chow Chow
- German Shepherd dog
- The Great Pyrenees
- Golden Retriever
- Pembroke Welsh Corgi
- Siberian Husky
- Bernese Mountain Dog
- Saint Bernard
- Labrador Retriever