As an animal lover it can be very upsetting to discover you are allergic to dogs. A paper published in the veterinary Record by Dr Jane Murray in the Department of Clinical Veterinary Science at Bristol University, states that 39% of households in the UK own at least one dog and over 10.5 million dogs are owned in the UK.
Having an allergy to dogs is relatively common and particularly so in children between the ages of 3-8 due to their still developing and immature immune systems.
Despite enduring allergy symptoms some dog owners do not want to part with their pets at any cost. Other pet lovers determined to enjoy the company of man’s best friend cope by choosing to own an “allergy friendly” dog. These “hypoallergenic” dogs can be a good option for some dog allergy sufferers as they shed little to no hair compared with typical dogs. As a rule dogs without hair and breeds with short hair tend to make the best hypoallergenic pets.
All dogs shed dander, even completely hairless ones.
Breeds of dogs considered to be hypoallergenic:
- Bichon Frise
- Yorkshire Terrior
- Bedlington Terrior
- Shih Tzu
- Italian Greyhound
- Chinese Crested
Severe Dog Allergy Sufferers
Those with severe allergies and asthma are still unable to tolerate hypoallergenic dogs. This is because even though a dog is hypoallergenic it can still cause an allergic reaction. Describing something as “hypoallergenic” simply means that it is “reduced allergenic” and is often the cause of confusion, as people mistakenly take this to mean “allergy free”.
What causes dog allergy?
Contrary to popular belief, it isn’t the hair or fur of the dog that causes the problem. The allergic response is to various proteins (allergens) found in the saliva, skin, faeces and urine of the dog. When dogs groom themselves, it involves licking their fur, this means that the allergens are then transferred to their hair or coat. Once the saliva & urine dry up the microscopic protein molecules “dander”, are easily airborne, this is how they enter the respiratory system which then triggers the allergic response. The saliva and urine that remain on the dogs fur and feet pads will eventually shed and become an allergic threat too.
Dander is virtually invisible to the human eye, it is extremely sticky and clings to clothes, carpets, curtains, bedding and even walls. It will linger in your house months after the pet has left.
So, do allergy free dogs exist?
The direct answer to this question is a big “NO”. As mentioned above, all dogs carry allergens. If your allergic response to these particular allergens isn’t severe then you may be able to control it by taking antihistamines, ensuring regular bathing and grooming of your dog and also meticulous cleaning of your house.
Remember hypoallergenic means less allergic – not allergy free!