Health & Wellness Articles

The Truth about Hypoallergenic Dogs and Cats

The Best Animals for People with Allergies

You love animals—but whenever you go near them, your eyes water up, your throat itches, and your skin breaks out in hives. What a cruel, cruel joke for any dog or cat lover!  Even if you don't share your home with a pet, it can be difficult to enter the house of someone who does. So is there any hope (beyond a lifetime of allergy medications)?
Scientifically speaking, there's no such thing as a hypoallergenic dog or cat, but there is anecdotal evidence that certain breeds cause fewer problems in allergy-prone humans. In truth, any animal with fur or feathers has the potential to cause allergies. In fact, a 2011 study published in The American Journal of Rhinology & Allergy found that dog allergen levels in homes with hypoallergenic dogs were no different than those found in homes with other breeds.  It's just that everyone reacts differently to each animal's dander, saliva and fur. So just because you're allergic to one cat (or even many cats) doesn't mean you'll be allergic to all of them. The same is true for dogs. This means that even with severe pet allergies, you could still encounter a pet that doesn't give you an allergic reaction at all.
The following breeds, often called hypoallergenic, tend to be the most recommended for people who suffer from allergies to dogs and cats.

Least-Allergenic Dogs
  • Airedale terrier
  • Bichon frisé
  • Chinese crested 
  • Kerry blue terrier
  • Poodle 
  • Portuguese water dog
  • Soft-coated wheaten terrier
  • West Highland white terrier

Least-Allergenic Cats
  • Balinese 
  • Bengal
  • Burmese
  • Colorpoint shorthair
  • Cornish rex
  • Devon rex
  • Javanese
  • Ocicat
  • Oriental shorthair
  • Russian blue
  • Siamese
  • Siberian
  • Sphynx

If you'd prefer to adopt an animal from a shelter or rescue group, don't let allergies hold you back. There are rescues devoted to just about every breed of animal you can imagine. You can also find mixes in shelters that might cause fewer allergies. It's quite common to find dogs mixed with poodle, one of the top contenders for least-allergenic animal.
Your other option is to choose a pets without fur or feathers. You can consider exotic pets like lizards, snakes or turtles, but reptiles and amphibians come with their own health dangers, including salmonella. Smaller mammals like guinea pigs and gerbils might cause fewer allergies, as they're kept in cages and don't have free roam of the house where their fur and dander can build up in the carpet. Fish are also a good choice for people with allergies.

If you love animals and want to try to make sure your children don't develop animal allergies, one way to prevent them is to actually have an animal in the home during the child's first year of life. Studies have shown that children who grow up on farms or with indoor pets are less likely to develop animal allergies—and have fewer respiratory tract infections. (However, it is possible for adults to develop allergies later in life.)
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About The Author

Megan Patrick Megan Patrick
Megan Lane Patrick has been a professional writer and editor for the past 16 years, and was a chronic dieter for at least 30. A combination of weight-loss surgery, mindful eating and daily exercise finally allowed her to maintain a weight loss of more than 100 pounds. When she's not lifting weights at the gym, you can find her walking shelter dogs as a volunteer for the SPCA.

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