Keep Your Pet Allergy on a Leash

The thought of cuddling up on the couch with a dog probably warms your heart. But if you have a pet allergy, this close contact may be enough to make you cough, sneeze, and rub your eyes.

The Facts About Pet Allergies

The Asthma and Allergy Foundation estimates that 15 to 30 percent of people with allergies find that animals trigger their symptoms. If you fall into this group, this doesn't mean that you can't take pleasure in having a pet. Many dog owners with mild allergies can take some key steps to minimize their symptoms and comfortably co-exist with their four-legged friends.

Pets You Might Tolerate

"There is no truly hypoallergenic dog," says Richard S. Goldstein, DVM, who runs the Mobile Vet Squad in Westchester County, NY. But, he says that there are dogs who produce less dander (dry skin flakes) and can be easier to tolerate for people with allergies.

It's often the dog's dander, saliva, and urine, rather than the hair itself, that causes the allergic reaction. However, since the hair can trap pollen, mold, and other allergens, some people have better luck with short-haired pets, Goldstein adds.

Best Picks for a Pet Allergy

If you're wondering what are some of the best breeds for people with a pet allergy, the American Kennel Club suggests some of the following picks:

  • Bedlington Terrier
  • Bichon Frise
  • Chinese Crested
  • Irish Water Spaniel
  • Kerry Blue Terrier
  • Maltese

If cats are more your cup of tea, some of the better breeds for allergy sufferers are among the exotic (and often expensive) types:

  • Sphynx
  • Oriental Shorthair
  • Devon Rex
  • Cornish Rex

Clean Up Your Act

Regardless of what type of animal you prefer, Goldstein points out that frequent baths and grooming can help keep allergens to a minimum. Other suggestions to manage your pet allergy include banishing your pet from the bedroom and refraining from hugging and kissing him. It's also a good idea to use a HEPA (High Efficiency Particulate Arresting) air filer to trap allergens, and vacuum as often as you can.

Gain Control of a Pet Allergy

Your doctor or allergist can also work with you to control your symptoms. Using antihistamines and other allergy medications, including nasal sprays, may help you to feel better. Some people with more severe allergies achieve long-term relief using immunization therapy to build up their tolerance to animals.

If all else fails, you can adopt a different kind of pet instead. Many allergists say that animals such as lizards, snakes, and tropical fish are a safe bet.




"Allergies to Pets: Learn to Live with Your Pet in Harmony Even if You're Allergic to Them." The Humane Society of the United States. The Humane Society, 18 May, 2010. Web. 3 Nov. 2010.

"Pet Allergy." American College of Allergy. Asthma and Immunology. ACAAI, 2007. Web. 3 Nov. 2010.

"Pet Allergies: Who Gets Pet Allergies?" Asthma and Allergy Foundation of America Editorial Board. AAFA, 2005. Web. 9 Nov. 2010.

"Are You Allergic to Your Pet? Breathe easy-you can still keep your animal companion!" The American Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals. ASPCA, n.d. Web. 9 Nov. 2010.