Itching to adopt a pet? Literally?
Despite the wishes of their physicians, an estimated 10% of pet owners who are allergic to their beloved animals still keep them, yet they continue to lead healthy and happy lives. By understanding why they are allergic to certain animals and choosing the right hypoallergenic pet, tons of people are able to control their symptoms and enjoy the companionship of a lifetime. In the battle against pet allergies, here’s how you can own yours – let’s break it down.
Round 1: The Source of Allergies
Many animals produce a type of protein that is found in animal urine, saliva, and dander. Some people have immune systems who can’t handle these foreign substances which is what triggers allergies. Symptoms may include symptoms like teary eyes, itching, swollen membranes and more. Contrary to what many believe, people aren’t allergic to pet hair – they’re allergic to the allergens that are present in pet hair. Allergic reactions can be caused when the allergens become airborne as well, so it’s possible to be susceptible to an allergy attack without even touching the culprit.
Don’t forget, animals can be allergic to things, too! Many dogs and cats experience allergies between each other and some are even allergic to humans. If your pet suffers from allergies, visit a local veterinarian to figure out the best course of action.
Round 2: How to Deal with Symptoms
Allergies are annoying; there’s no doubt about it. But taking certain steps can improve quality of living and minimize allergic reactions. Here’s how pet owners deal with dander from their pets:
- Regular grooming: It’s important to bathe and brush your pet regularly to remove dirt and dander that’s building up. Pets should get their fur trimmed quite often as well to reduce shedding.
- Air purifiers: Investing in an air purifier will get rid of the allergens floating in the air that cause allergies. Not only do air purifiers get rid of dander, they filter out dust, pollen, smoke, and most other pollutants as well.
- Allergy medication: Pharmacies offer over-the-counter drugs such as Claritin and Zyrtec that contain antihistamines. These chemicals reduce the natural histamines in the body that cause runny noses, teary eyes, and swelling.
- Immunotherapy: Some doctors may recommend getting allergy shots. How this works is the doctor will inject the patient with a tiny amount of the substance that they are allergic to, which should stimulate the production of “blocking” antibodies that reduce allergy symptoms. Gradually, the doses will increase and then stabilize. This option isn’t for everyone, so make sure to double check with a doctor.
- Hygiene: Stay extra clean to avoid getting any dander in the sinus cavities, eyes, or mouth. Some good practices include washing your hands after every encounter with your pet, doing laundry every week including pillows and sheets, and vacuuming regularly. This will eliminate pet hair or mucus around the house that may be causing symptoms. Here’s some more in-depth information about how you can keep your home clean when you have pets.
- Pet-only areas: Lastly, it may be a good idea to designate a specific area for pets to avoid getting allergens all over the house. Keep them outside or invest in a pet gate, so they’re not shedding all over the house.
Round 3: What Hypoallergenic Pets to Adopt
If your allergies are extremely serious, many pets are still available out there. According to Babble, experts have determined some animals produce less allergens or no allergens at all, making them better choices for people who are hyper-sensitive to these substances. There are tons of options out there including certain breeds of dogs, cats, fish, reptiles, birds, and more. Here’s a list of hypoallergenic pets that may be compatible with your allergies.
- Dogs: Often, allergens are spread when dogs shed their fur around the house. By choosing a dog that sheds less and requires more grooming, it is possible to reduce the amount of fur being circulated around your home. No dog is completely hypoallergenic, but for those who are only mildly allergic, consider the following breeds:
- Tibetan Terrier
- Shih Tzu
- Portuguese Water Dog
- Soft-Coated Wheaten Terrier
- West Highland White Terrier
- Bichon Frise
- Chinese Cresteds
- Cats: The cause of many people’s allergies is the protein Fel d 1 found in cat hair. Like dogs, all cats produce this protein, so none are completely hypoallergenic. However, choosing a cat with less fur and shedding can reduce the amount of protein being circulated in the air. Some breeds have less fur or finer fur which can help reduce allergic reactions. According to Catster, here are a few popular ones:
- Russian Blue
- Devon Rex
- Javanese cats.
- Small mammals: Gerbils, guinea pigs, mice, and rabbits are all awesome pets because they have short fur and they shed less than dogs and cats. Since they are usually left them outside (in the case of guinea pigs and rabbits) or in a cage, the chance that allergens will spread is much lower. There are even hairless rodents and hamster available for people with extreme allergies.
- Reptiles: Don’t be fooled by their cold-blooded nature, these creatures can be just as friendly and fun as other typical house pets. Even better, they shed no fur or dander, making them the perfect pets for people with allergies. There are a variety of different types of reptiles offered at pet stores such as:
- Bearded dragons
- Amphibians: Like reptiles, amphibians don’t have fur or dander. Besides being gloriously slimy, many of them are excellent, low maintenance pets for first-time pet owners. Popular amphibians are frogs, salamanders, axolotls, newts, and toads.
- Pigs: Pigs can make great pets if you have the space and resources to provide for a bigger pet. They have hair instead of fur, so they have may be a better choice for those with allergies. It’s important to remember that most pigs do grow to be over 100 pounds large, so make sure that you can provide the space they need. It’s critical to do your research on mini pigs and how to properly care for them!
- Insects, bugs, spiders, and more: These unorthodox pets produce no dander and they are very unique pets. Tons of people own spiders, ant farms, snails, and even cockroaches. Just be careful not to let them loose in the house!
- Hermit crabs: These curious, little invertebrates are completely hypoallergenic. Hermit crabs vary in size, color, and change shells as they grow larger. However, they aren’t as low maintenance as people may believe. Hermit crabs can live over 30 years, but they need lots of space, shells, proper humidity, companions, sand, toys, and a special diet. Here’s more information about hermit crab care for beginners.
- Fish: Fish come with different sizes, shapes, colors, and personalities. These hypoallergenic pets are a classic.
Allergies can definitely be in-fur-iating, but they’re no reason to eliminate the possibility of having pets altogether. There are tons of solutions available to treat them and lots of hypoallergenic pets to adopt. If you’re interested, check out your local pet shelter because there are always animals in need of loving homes. For anyone who’s already a proud pet parent, Brookhurst Animal is a veterinary clinic located in Anaheim, CA, and we are just a call away if your pet needs medical attention.