The Best Pets For People With Allergies

Getting a pet can be one of the best things you can do for yourself or your family. But sometimes it’s not so easy when allergies are involved. The most common allergic reactions come from pet dander, or the shedding of dead skin. This dander contains proteins that can trigger unpleasant symptoms for people with supersensitive immune systems. Pet saliva and urine can also trigger immune responses.

Some people get allergy shots to help them enjoy having pets without suffering from symptoms due to pet dander, saliva, or urine. Another way to lower immune response is by replacing carpets that trap and hold dander with wood or tile floors. Investing in a HEPA filter can also keep your home allergy free. Very clean floors and furniture the pet comes into contact with is very important as well.

Another popular choice is to get a pet that is hypoallergenic. The only truly hypoallergenic pets have scales. Any pet with fur has the potential to irritate one’s immune system. But there are some animals in the dog, cat, bird and rodent families that are also good because they shed less, have less hair and dander overall, or require frequent grooming that keeps the dander in check.

Dogs that can be lower in allergy triggers include:

Portuguese Water Dog
This is the dog the President Obama got for the family as his daughter Malia has allergies. There is little shedding and regular grooming is required, which limits the amount of dander.

The Bichon Frise and the Poodle (standard, miniature and toy), all fall in the low dander category along with the Coton de Tulear, Kerry Blue Terrier, the American Labradoodle, Bedlington Terrier, Chinese Crested, Irish Water Spaniel, Maltese, Schnauzers, and Soft-Coated Wheaten Terrier.

*Just make sure you have the time and budget to groom a dog that requires frequent grooming. If not, it defeats the purpose of the breed. 

Cats that can be lower in allergy triggers include:

Sphynx Cat
This cat is hairless so there is less licking and saliva, but there is still dander to consider, and the breed does require attention that other cats do not, such as use of skin moisturizers and protection from the sun.

Devon Rex Cat
This cat has less fur than most so they don’t tend to lick and clean themselves as much as other cats. Besides dander, cat saliva has proteins in it that are known to trigger allergies in some people.

Other cat breeds to consider are the Balinese-Javanese, Cornish Rex, and Siberian Cat

Other pets that can be lower in allergy triggers include:

Rabbits, Hamsters, And Gerbils
These animals have dander, but because they are generally much smaller than dogs and cats, they have less of it. These pets are usually kept to their cages most of the time, so they don’t spread their dander around the house as much.

Parakeets And Cockatiels
These birds produce dander, but again, their size and confinement to a cage limits the volume and the spread throughout the house. It is not recommended that their cage be in the bedroom of a sensitive person. It’s best to avoid larger birds like cockatoos and African gray parrots as the dander production is much greater.

Goldfish
While not the most interactive pet, a goldfish could be a good place to start with a hypoallergenic pet.

Snakes, Frogs, Lizards And Turtles
Reptiles and amphibians aren’t always the first choice of pets for many families, but they can fulfill the experience of having a pet for your child or family.

Care for these pets may include the need for temperature regulation and require live insects or in the case of snakes, small mice for feeding.
There’s also a concern with salmonella contamination for some of these pets, handwashing after handling is important. If your child has stomach flu like symptoms, be sure to tell their doctor if you have any of these pets as salmonella symptoms can be similar.

So all is not lost when it comes to family pets if allergies are a big issue.

*It is very important that immune-sensitive family members should spend some time with the animal in question or one of its breed a few times before a decision is made to make that pet a member of your family.