Hypoallergenic Dogs – Fact or Fiction?
Hypoallergenic; ‘relatively unlikely to cause an allergic reaction’.
Hypoallergenic dogs are hugely sought after across the UK and throughout the world. With so many of us being allergic to dogs, the prospect of a fun family pet that does not cause allergy flare-ups is extremely inviting.
There appears to be a myth that dogs who do not shed hair are hypoallergenic, and therefore will not cause your allergies to spike.
Whilst short-haired dogs may cause slightly more tame reactions; they will inevitably still affect those who are allergic. This is because it is not just shedding hair that causes reactions in people. Urine, saliva, and dead skin can all irritate humans, causing severe allergy flare-ups.
Choosing a dog that suits your tastes and your family needs is difficult at the best of times. Throw allergies into the mix, and the task can seem almost impossible.
But fear not, you can have a happy family life with a dog without the need to sacrifice your ability to breathe. Although no fully hypoallergenic dog exists, there are many steps you can take to allow you and the pup to live together happily.
Why People are Allergic to Dogs
Many humans are allergic to a protein that is found in dogs saliva and urine. As a dog naturally grooms themselves, they will lick their body, and so the protein will attach itself to the hair and skin.
As the hair sheds, the allergens can quickly spread throughout the home, increasing human reactions. Additionally, your dog will naturally shed dead skin, which will almost unnoticeably be dispersed around the house, causing your allergies to flare.
This explains why, although shorter-haired dogs are generally kinder on allergy sufferers, there is no such thing as a completely hypoallergenic dog.
The Best Dogs for Allergies
Whilst no single breed of dog is 100% hypoallergenic; there are undoubtedly breeds which are less likely to cause you a reaction. These include the Maltese, Miniature Schnauzer and Poodle.
Yet, every person, every allergy, and every pet are different, so be sure you spend some extensive time with the pup before committing to bringing them home. Otherwise, it can lead to an abundance of disappointment for yourself, your family, and the dog.
The size of the dog will certainly make a difference purely down to its surface area. A large dog will naturally shed more skin and hair, resulting in your allergy reaction being more significant.
Beware of Marketing Ploys
In the past 20 years, the world has seen a boom in ‘designer dogs’.
With changing trends, these dogs are crossbred to look a certain way to meet today’s societal standards. However, as well as looking the part, many breeders also promise an allergy-free life with your new pet.
As stated above, no dog is 100% hypoallergenic, so beware of these fraudsters. What they are promising is not only wrong but profoundly unethical and unfair on both you and the puppy!
Those with Allergies who Still Want a Dog
Whilst there is no guarantee that you will be allergy-free around a pet, there are plenty of steps you can take to make life more comfortable if you are sure that being a dog owner is for you.
Try Before You Buy
If you have any family members or friends with a breed you are hankering after, ask if you can dog sit for a few days, or at least spend a few days around their home. This will get you used to the dog and how your allergies react. If you only experience mild symptoms, you will likely be able to live simultaneously with your new pet and your allergies.
If you are adopting, the shelter will generally be more than happy for you to take the dog for the day to see how your relationship blossoms. This is an excellent opportunity to see how your allergies hold up.
Carpets are notoriously difficult to clean. They can easily trap dog hairs which can be very difficult to remove. Wooden or tiled floors mean you can get a more in-depth and effortless clean, quickly removing skin and hair which could lead to an allergy flare-up.
These are a great addition to the home to help clean the air. They can help remove particles from the atmosphere leaving the home feeling and smelling great. However, please be aware these only clean the air and are not a substitute for regular cleaning and vacuuming.
Clean, Clean, and Clean Some More
Allergies aside, cleanliness is essential, but even more so in this circumstance.
It would be best to regularly clean your pets bed, blankets, and soft toys, which harbour bacteria such as saliva. Be sure you use chemical-free cleaners around the home, especially on the floors and surfaces that your pup is likely to lick.
It would help if you also shampooed your dog once per week, in order to remove any shedding hair and to keep them smelling great. Be sure to use gentle shampoo, particularly important for puppies.
As mentioned, allergies are often caused by dog saliva. Whilst it is a common, yet quite annoying habit of many dogs, you must train your dog not to do this.
No Bedroom Policy
If possible, implement a strict no bedroom policy for your dog. This allows you to create a haven where you can almost guarantee an allergy-free relax.
You may choose to take this one step further and not allow your pet on some furniture items such as the sofa, limiting the chances of your allergies flaring.
Final Thoughts on Hypoallergenic Dogs
Promoting overall wellness in your dog will help reduce the reaction of your allergies. Regular exercise, a balanced diet, and the incorporation of multi-vitamins will help encourage healthy skin and hair in your pet.
The main takeaway should be that this is not a one size fits all solution. Your situation will ultimately depend on the level of your allergies, the individual dog, and your home. Just be sure to make a well-rounded and informed decision before taking the plunge.
Remember, allergies do not mean it is the end of your dog-owning dream.