Best Pets for People with Pet Allergies

Man Lying on Bed Petting Cat and SneezingAlmost every one of us can think of at least one person who’s allergic to pets. And, when it comes to animal lovers, these pet allergies can be particularly troublesome and even heartbreaking.

Many allergy sufferers wonder if it will ever be possible for them to share their home with a beloved pet companion.

The good news is, many can and do with proper planning, adopting a pet that is more allergy forgiving, and making some changes around the home to reduce exposure to allergens.

The Myth of the Hypoallergenic Dog or Cat

Although some people experience fewer allergy symptoms when exposed to certain dog or cat breeds, there is no such thing as a 100% non-allergenic feline or canine. This is because these mammals shed dander (dead skin cells), which contain the proteins that cause allergies. These proteins are also found in saliva and urine.

There are two reasons why it is thought that some breeds are more allergy forgiving.

  1. Hairless breeds, like the Sphynx cat, do not need to self-groom as much, therefore they do not transfer the saliva to the skin (dander).
  2. Breeds that require frequent grooming, such as Portuguese water dogs, are bathed, brushed, etc. with regularity, which rids them of the hair and dander that would otherwise be shed in the home.

Despite these reasons, choosing a pet that is labeled as hypoallergenic can be a gamble. It’s best to gain a good understanding of the level of severity of your allergies and to spend some time with various types of pets before making a potentially disappointing decision to buy or adopt (which would be devastating for a fur friend, too).

When Choosing a Pet Companion

Before considering a pet, it is important to consult with your doctor or specialist. There are a number of improved treatments that have made it possible for an allergic family member to continue to care for a pet. It depends upon how severe the reactions are and what treatments have been effective. And, of course, this varies from person to person.

When an allergy to cats or dogs is very severe, some pet lovers have found nontraditional or exotic pets, such as birds, snakes, lizards, and/or fish, to be incredible, fascinating, and loveable pets.

Many people with pet allergies also find small mammals or ‘pocket pets’ to be easier to co-exist with. But remember, it’s important to know all of your allergies since some will have a reaction to bedding, urine, and so forth.

Living with a Pet When You Have Pet Allergies

When pet owners develop allergies later in life or have symptoms that are more manageable, the decision to continue to care for a fur friend is often made. After all, our pets are members of the family and deeply loved. In these situations, some might ask, “How can I make living with my pet more comfortable?”

Thankfully, there are several things you can do at home to continue to care for your best four-legged friend while minimizing the allergic response.

  • Make at least one area, like your bedroom, a pet-free zone where you can get a break from the allergens
  • Use high quality air purifiers with HEPA filters
  • Understand all of the allergens that cause a reaction – from cigarette smoke to dust mites – and work to remove or diminish their presence in the home
  • Remove unnecessary carpeting or fabrics
  • Use hypoallergenic bedding and pillow covers
  • Launder your pet’s bedding each week and keep the home vacuumed

Although pet allergies can be discouraging, there is hope. Try some of these tips and stay abreast of the latest treatments to ensure a happy, paw-friendly, itch-free home.