More than ten million Americans suffer from some sort of a pet allergy. This statistic tells us that there are a great many people out there itching, breaking out in rashes, coughing, and sneezing every time they go near a dog. So what about those allergy sufferers that are also pet lovers? Have their allergies sentenced them to a petless existence? Not necessarily.
Causes of Pet Allergies
Most people think that pet allergy sufferers are allergic to animal hair, but this is not the case. They are actually allergic to allergens that are secreted by oil glands and shed with dander (dead skin cells). These allergens are also found in canine saliva and urine.
In the past, doctors would often recommend that patients with pet allergies give up their dogs. However, dog lovers know that dogs become part of your family, and most would do just about anything to avoid having to give them away. Also, getting rid of your dog is not likely to solve the problem, as pet allergens can be found everywhere, including in the homes of people who don’t own pets.
Dog Breeds for Allergy Sufferers
So how can people suffering from pet allergies manage them enough to be able to keep a dog as a pet—and enjoy it? The term “hypoallergenic dogs” is commonly heard today, but there really are no dogs that don’t cause allergic reactions. All dogs have hair (even so-called “hairless” dogs), dander, saliva, and urine, and therefore, all dogs can cause allergic reactions. However, there are some dog breeds that may not affect allergy sufferers as much because of the type of hair these breeds have or the amount of hair they shed. These breeds include:
- Curly-coated: Bichon Frises, Irish Water Spaniels, Poodles, and Portuguese Water Dogs.
- Hairless: American Hairless Terriers, Chinese Cresteds, and Xoloitzcuintli.
- Low-shedding or single-coated: Basenjis, Chihuahuas, Italian Greyhounds, and Maltese.
- Terrier-type: Bedlington Terriers, Kerry Blue Terriers, Schnauzers, and Soft-Coated Wheaten Terriers.
Managing Your Symptoms
No matter what kind of dog you have, taking good care of him can help to alleviate some of your allergy symptoms. By making sure your dog is bathed and groomed faithfully, you will rid him of large amounts of dander. In addition, you can make changes to your home, like covering your mattress with a vinyl cover and changing all bedding at least once a week. Carpets harbor large amounts of dust, dander, and other allergens, no matter how often you vacuum, so hardwood, vinyl, or linoleum floors are much better choices for allergy sufferers.
If you are an allergy sufferer and a dog lover, it is possible for you to own a dog and not be in constant allergy-related misery. Consider choosing a breed that may be less of an irritant to your allergies. Or, if you fall in love with a dog that makes you sneeze like crazy, be diligent about keeping him and your house clean. These measures should help to ensure that just about any allergy sufferer can be given the opportunity to share his or her life with a canine companion.