Pets. The sad truth is that many of us can’t live with them, but can’t live without them. The good news is that if you or somebody in your home insist on having a pet (for whatever reason), a hairless pet isn’t the only solution.
Dander is the most commonly troublesome pet allergen. This is shed by the skin of warm blooded pets, and can be found on the animal’s fur. Pet saliva is another common allergen. These allergens then latch on to the pet’s hair. As a result, people often mistakenly assume the fur is the major culprit in this scenario, when in actual fact the fur is simply the carrier. While no cats, dogs, rodents or even birds are completely non-allergenic, hypoallergenic pets produce less allergens than the others. A number of adorably fluffy cat and dog breeds are considered ‘hypoallergenic breeds’. These breeds produce fewer allergens than other breeds, earning them this title. If you’re somebody who struggles with allergies but yearns for the affection of a fur-baby, one of the following cute critters may be your ultimate happy medium.
Bedlington Terrier: These cute pooches sport curly, woolly coats and weigh in at around the 10kg mark. They are known for their minimal shedding, which means less allergen-carrying-fluff build-up in your home.
Bichon Frise: Affectionately referred to as “powder puff” dogs, bichon frises have a softer fur undercoat and a coarse, curly outer coat. They weigh anywhere between 5kg and 10kg in general.
Kerry Blue Terrier: This breed is deemed hypoallergenic because it sheds less dander than many other breeds. Born with black coats, their fur turns to a shade of blue-grey as the puppy grows. The kerry blue terrier is also known for being fun-loving, energetic, and for its outstanding hunting instincts (so probably not the best choice of dog if you have a family cat).
Irish Water Spaniel: These sizable dogs sport a curly mop of fur and can weight up to 30kg. This breed does require regular grooming and bathing. However, this also helps to further reduce allergens.
One of the smaller hypoallergenic breeds, the Maltese weighs in at roughly around 3kg. They have silky coats that should be brushed daily.
Siberian Cat: This furiously fluffy breed is believed to produce either none or relatively little of the Fel D1 allergen, in comparison with other cats. Another theory with regard to this breed’s hypoallergenic qualities is that its fur helps its skin to stay well hydrated and as a result thwarts dander production and distribution.
Russian Blue: This is another popular hypoallergenic breed that actually produces less of the glycoprotein Fel D1 – the substance that causes people to struggle with an allergic reaction.
Cornish Rex: These cats aren’t hairless in their entirety, but they do feature two fewer layers of hair than what regular cats do. Their coat consists of a soft “undercoat” of down hair – the layer of fur covered by two other layers of fur in most cats. For this reason they tend to shed less than other cats, making them a great pet option for people with allergies.
LaPerm: Known for its unusual coat, the LaPerm cat sports a unique, curly coat. The reason it is believed to be less offensive to those with allergies is that it sheds less fur than other cats, and its curls help to keep dander shed by the cat’s skin from spreading.
Balinese: Also referred to as the “long-haired Siamese,” Balinese cats produce much less of the Fel D1 protein that triggers many individuals’ allergies.
Parakeet (or Budgie): Parakeets or budgies are great feathered options for bird fans as they shed very little dander, even when they are molting.
Syrian Hamster: The most common household hamster, these make for excellent pets for allergy sufferers as they are usually confined to a small living space. This means that they are unable to shed dander all over the house. The same can be said of gerbils, guinea pigs, mice, chinchillas and rats as well. However, this is not to say that a person with allergies won’t be allergic to the rodent itself.
Ferret: Ferrets don’t shed dander like other domestic animals do, which makes them a suitable option for all those who are allergic to dander specifically.
Whichever hypoallergenic pet you eventually decide on, it’s always recommended that you spend time with any animal prior to bringing it into the home. This will help with determining whether or not the pet is compatible with your allergy and temperament requirements. Once a part of your family, it’s essential that your pet be groomed regularly to help further eliminate any allergens. It is also recommended that you consult a medical practitioner with regard to adopting a pet if you are allergic to animals. Remember that if there’s fur, there is bound to be a degree of shedding. So to help send that last little bit of fluff flying, be sure to clean and vacuum your home regularly (particularly areas in which the pet frequents) with a powerful, pet-hair friendly vacuum cleaner. Also be sure to deep clean carpets and upholstery every three months with a purpose built deep-cleaner.
Finally, consider wiping down your fluffy pets with a damp cloth daily to help remove allergens from their coat that they may be running on to your furniture or rugs.
Because at the end of the day, the only pets that are entirely hypoallergenic are those with scales.