About one in 10 people have pet allergies. They cannot be in the same room with a cat or dog without sneezing or experiencing other allergy symptoms.
For these people, hypoallergenic pets may seem like the obvious solution. Unfortunately, it’s not that simple. In fact, hypoallergenic dogs or cats might be a myth after all.
A study of 60 dog breeds, including 11 of which were allegedly hypoallergenic, revealed that there is really no difference between regular and hypoallergenic breeds. Homes that have hypoallergenic dogs like Portuguese water dogs, poodles and schnauzers, have as much of the dog allergen known as Can F1 as homes with “regular” dogs. Any dog that has skin, saliva and urine can never be truly hypoallergenic!
There’s no comparable study on cats, but anecdotal evidence suggest that it’s pretty much the same story. Cat allergies are twice as common as dog allergies, so the chances of finding a hypoallergenic cat are really low.
Practical Tips For Pet Owners With Allergies
Having a pet allergy doesn’t always mean that you can’t be a pet owner.
Depending on the severity of your allergies, the benefits of pet companionship can sometimes outweigh the challenges of allergies. In fact, about a third of the people who suffer from these allergies live in a home with at least one pet.
If you have a non-life-threatening pet allergy and want to get a cat or a dog, start by figuring out the breeds that you’re least allergic to. It’s highly unlikely you will be equally sensitive to all breeds, so take your time and do your research. In fact, the only reason why people believe that certain dog or cat breeds are hypoallergenic is because those breeds are less irritating to some people than others.
If you already have a pet, create “allergy free” zones in your home and restrict your furry friend’s access to those areas. One of these areas should definitely be your bedroom.
Using a high-efficiency HEPA air cleaner can prevent dander from sticking to the furnishings. Moreover, using a “micro filter” bag in the vacuum cleaner, and washing curtains, pet beds and carpets regularly, can go a long way to reduce allergen levels in your home.
Bathing your pet every week is another great way to reduce allergen levels in your home. It can reduce the amount of allergens on the pet’s fur by up to 84%.
Lastly, allergy shots can also help to gradually desensitize your immune system to pet allergens. This will improve the symptoms but, unfortunately, it won’t eliminate them entirely.
The encouraging news is that a combination of allergy shots, treatments and good cleaning methods can make it much easier for animal lovers with allergies to live with pets.