For most of us, choosing a new pet is a fun process resulting in a furry, cuddly companion whose company we will enjoy for years to come. But for those with moderate to severe animal allergies, selecting a pet is a far more complicated process.
Beyond the standard considerations of size, type and lifestyle, the allergy-prone also need to weigh the possible effects a pet may have on their quality of life. Shedding and dander can vary from one pet to the next, as can the effect shedding and dander have on people with allergies. An allergist can often offer some rough guidelines if you’re looking for help in choosing a pet. Similarly, simple in-home measures like replacing air conditioner filters frequently and using a vacuum cleaner with a HEPA filter can help cut down on allergens floating throughout the home.
While each type of pet may vary in the degree to which it agitates your allergies, some breeds tend to be better than others. Following are some tips to help you choose the best pet for you:
Pets to avoid
Some pets are notorious for causing allergic reactions, shedding a lot of fur and dander. For potential pet owners with allergy sensitivities, some breeds may simply be impossible to adopt. Some dogs known to aggravate allergies are Irish setters and German shepherds. Dogs that are prone to skin conditions may also be bad for allergy-sufferers, and angora cats are also very tough on allergies in comparison with other cat breeds.
Fortunately, a number of cats and dogs tend to produce minimal shedding and pet dander, which minimizes allergic irritations.
In general, dogs with human-like hair tend to be better for allergies than dogs with thick fur. Beagles, poodles and schnauzers tend to be popular dogs for pet owners with allergy sensitivities. Among felines, the sphynx and the British short hair breed are both great matches for anyone with a cat allergy.
For some allergy sufferers who react to both dogs and cats, a small, caged animal such as a hamster or guinea pig can be easier to tolerate. These animals still produce dander and can therefore still cause allergic reactions, but they’re sometimes less irritating to allergy sufferers by virtue of their diminutive size and as a result of being confined to a small space.
For those who simply cannot share a home with fur-bearing pets, consider the hair-free route with a turtle or other cold-blooded critter. These animals might not bring the cuddle factor the way a dog or cat might, but they still offer an in-home companion that needs love and attention. For children with allergy sensitivities, lizards, turtles and other small pets can be a great way to teach them responsibility without exposing them to potentially harmful allergens.
If you have allergies and are worried about how an animal might affect you, always try to interact with a prospective pet first to see how your allergies fare. For mild reactions, you might be able to control your allergy with simple over-the-counter or prescription medications. Just don’t get discouraged; allergies don’t have to prevent you from enjoying the companionship of a pet. Although it’s an extra obstacle, your sensitivities can be addressed and managed to help you find the perfect animal friend.