We’re Allergic to Pets, but We Really Want One

YP Editors

There are usually pets that allergic people can adopt without triggering allergies, but it can be a tricky process to figure out what the right pet is. People often assume they're only allergic to an animal’s fur, but the true culprit of allergies is often dander – a buildup of dried sweat, saliva, and other material that builds up on microscopic-sized dead-skin flakes. While many allergic people consider furry pets that have a certain type of hair (slow-growing coats, short-haired, or even hairless), the fact is, a certain kind of coat doesn’t guarantee a pet won’t cause allergies. Even non-shedding and so-called hypoallergenic dogs can still trigger allergies because they naturally create dander.

Choosing a Breed

The primary objective in looking for a pet should be to find a breed that produces less dander. Poodles, Kerry Blue terriers, Bedlington terriers, Bichon Frise, and Chinese Crested breeds are at the top of this list.

The same is the case with cats—and several cat breeds have been verified to produce less of the protein believed to trigger allergies. Sphynx, Siberian, and Balinese breeds rank at the top of this list.

Eliminating Dander

If you really want a pet, in addition to finding a minimally shedding breed, the key is really to eliminate dander as much as possible. This relies as much on specific housekeeping habits as it does on grooming the animal. Allergen-sensitive people will need to make sure their animal is groomed often, and possibly restricted to certain areas of the residence. This will probably entail making some tough choices, like not letting the pet on the bed.

Around the House

Practical solutions to an allergy-minimizing home include:
  • Non-porous flooring – e.g., tile or hardwood instead of carpet
  • Removing porous home accents like heavy drapes and throw rugs
  • Installing a high-efficiency particulate air (HEPA) filtration system
Finally, many allergy sufferers who love their pets enough to change their lifestyle will often take over-the-counter allergy medication to counteract any allergy flare-ups caused by their pets.

No Fur at All

People who really can’t deal with any type of fur may want to consider getting an unconventional pet from a store or shelter, such as a bird, a reptile (turtle or iguana), or even a pot-bellied pig. These do not have fur, and therefore don’t produce the same dander as long as they’re well groomed and their living quarters meticulously cleaned.