Can I Get a Puppy if I Have Allergies?

by Store Blog 01 sep
# Pet Tips

We love dogs. Their wet noses. Those dopey eyes. Their… dander?! If you are a part of the 20% of Americans allergic to dogs, you likely are familiar with the ways that dogs can aggravate asthma symptoms and existing respiratory symptoms [1]. You may have also heard of ‘hypoallergenic’ dogs— dogs that don’t aggravate allergy symptoms. While this label sounds amazing, there is a little misunderstanding behind what it may mean. This article will help you decode the label and help you choose what breed is best for you.

What Does It Mean When a Dog Breed Is Labeled as Hypoallergenic? 

Despite the prevalence of allergies to dogs, so far only two studies have been conducted that compared the levels of a major dog allergen, called Canis familiaris, between two breeds of dogs [2]. The studies found that certain breeds of dogs were more likely to cause allergy symptoms than others. Both studies determined that labrador retrievers— who are frequently crossbred to be more less-allergenic— ranked the most allergy-friendly, and dogs like Poodles and Yorkshire Terriers ranked as the least allergy-friendly [3][4]. 

This might be surprising to some considering that Poodles and Yorkshires are breeds of dogs that are low-shed or no shed. The reason why they still flare up allergies? Their dander and saliva! The truth is, no dog is truly hypoallergenic [5]. A more accurate label would be “allergy-friendly”, and plenty of dogs are specifically bred in ways that help owners who are allergic to dogs have lessened symptoms. 

Fact Check: Allergies and Shedding Don’t Always Connect

According to allergist Dr. Tania Elliot, shedding and allergies aren’t always correlated. “Somewhere along the line, the fact that a dog didn’t shed became synonymous with the word hypoallergenic. While some people can be allergic to dog hair, others may be allergic to the dander (skin cells) and even their saliva”[6]. This means that even a hairless dog could flare up allergies, depending on the owner. So, what makes a dog allergy-friendly? 
Dander, Coats, and Saliva- Oh My! 

Dog Coats and Allergies

Shaggy coat lovers, rejoice! While you may think that dog hair is the biggest culprit for allergy symptoms, it’s a little more complex than that. According to the American Lung Association, animals with fur tend to aggravate allergies because of the allergens and dander carried in on their fur, and not the fur itself [7].  You might have to up the ante on your vacuuming and lint-rolling, but that doesn’t mean that you are going to be more allergic to long-haired dogs. In fact, short-haired dogs and hairless animals contribute dander and allergens to indoor air pollution just as effectively as long-haired animals do[8]. They may have shorter coats, but you can’t avoid their dander and saliva!

Dander and Allergies

Dander is microscopic pieces of skin from dogs, cats, and other mammals. These allergens are tiny and have jagged shapes that allow themselves to latch on to things like furniture, clothing, and carpeting [9]. For allergy sufferers, breathing in these allergens can cause congestion, sneezing, runny nose, chest tightness, wheezing, itching or watery eyes, eczema, or rashes [10]. Dander isn’t the only thing you need to look out for— saliva is another common allergy culprit. 

Saliva and Allergies

The proteins found in saliva, urine, or feces from your dog can also be a factor in allergic reactions. Both dried saliva and dried feces containing allergens can flake off your puppy’s fur and become airborne and inhaled [11]. While this might make you want to scrub your dog down, bathing dogs frequently doesn’t always reduce the symptoms, and excessive bathing runs the risk of stripping your puppy’s coat of important oils that protect their skin— leading to even more dander [12]!  

How To Live With a Dog When You Have Allergies

While some people are too severely allergic to have a dog, others can manage their symptoms through immunotherapy, cleaning practices, and choosing specific breeds that might work for them.

Consider Immunotherapy

If you are serious about getting a puppy, allergen immunotherapy shots are a great way to build up tolerance to allergens. Allergist Dr. Elliot explains that these work by giving you small amounts of the allegan you are allergic to. She explains that  “by giving you very low levels of what you are allergic to and building up tolerance over time—you essentially train your system to no longer be allergic”[13].

Keep Your House in Tip-Top Shape

You may be able to keep your allergies in check with good housekeeping. 

  • Vacuuming frequently— and using a vacuum with a certified asthma and allergy filter— can help alleviate levels of dander and allergens in your home. 
  • Keep your dog out of your bedroom. As much as we love a good snuggle, it’s just not worth it when it compromises your health. Consider using one of the amazing training resources that comes with your Cedar Pet Supply adoption right after you get your puppy to train them to be comfortable sleeping outside of the bedroom. 
  • Get a HEPA air filter. These are getting more and more affordable, and advanced! 
  • Clean those carpets! Allergens and dander love carpet and hate hardwood. If a total hardwood overhaul isn’t in the picture, consider invesing in an industrial carpet steam cleaner. 

Choose the Right Breed of Dog 

Although there is no hypoallergenic breed, there are certainly things that can help you find the right pet for you. 

  • Opt for a purebred, not a mixed breed. We love mutts, but not for our allergy sufferers! Purebred dogs like the puppies at Cedar Pet Supply will have recorded lineages and bloodlines. By guaranteeing that Fido doesn’t have a Poodle as their great, great uncle means less allergies for you. 
  • Spend time with different breeds. By stopping into Cedar Pet Supply and spending 20 minutes with your dream pup, you can usually get a gauge on what level of reaction you will likely have with them as a pet. Our specialists love helping you find a puppy that you love and that fits your lifestyle. 

Visit Cedar Pet Supply 

As we noted, one of the best ways to tell if a puppy is a right match for an allergy-sensitive home is to spend some quality time with them. At Cedar Pet Supply, we love making sure that you walk away with a perfect puppy who is ready to be your best friend for life. Stop into Cedar Pet Supply today to check out our beautiful purebred puppies! <meta charset="utf-8">

Resources

  1. Chan, Sanny K, and Donald Y M Leung. “Dog and Cat Allergies: Current State of Diagnostic Approaches and Challenges.” Allergy, asthma & immunology research vol. 10,2 (2018): 97-105. doi:10.4168/aair.2018.10.2.97

  2. https://www.mayoclinic.org/diseases-conditions/pet-allergy/expert-answers/hypoallergenic-dog-breeds/faq-20058425

  3. https://acaai.org/

  4. Vredegoor, Doris W et al. “Can f 1 levels in hair and homes of different dog breeds: lack of evidence to describe any dog breed as hypoallergenic.” The Journal of allergy and clinical immunology vol. 130,4 (2012): 904-9.e7. doi:10.1016/j.jaci.2012.05.013

  5. Vredegoor, Doris W et al. “Can f 1 levels in hair and homes of different dog breeds: lack of evidence to describe any dog breed as hypoallergenic.” The Journal of allergy and clinical immunology vol. 130,4 (2012): 904-9.e7. doi:10.1016/j.jaci.2012.05.013

  6. Vredegoor, Doris W et al. “Can f 1 levels in hair and homes of different dog breeds: lack of evidence to describe any dog breed as hypoallergenic.” The Journal of allergy and clinical immunology vol. 130,4 (2012): 904-9.e7. doi:10.1016/j.jaci.2012.05.013 

  7.  https://www.lung.org/clean-air/at-home/indoor-air-pollutants/pet-dander

  8.  https://www.lung.org/clean-air/at-home/indoor-air-pollutants/pet-dander

  9.  Institute of Medicine, Division of Health Promotion, Indoor Air and Disease Prevention. Clearing the Air: Asthma and Indoor Air Exposures. Washington, D.C.: National Academies Press, 2000. Kanchongkittiphon W, et al. Indoor Environmental Exposures of Asthma: An Update to the 2000 Review by the Institute of Medicine. Environmental Health Perspectives. 2015; 123: 6-20.

  10. U.S. Environmental Protection Agency. Asthma Triggers: Gain Control: Pets. Accessed August 26, 2015.

  11. https://www.akc.org/expert-advice/health/how-often-should-you-wash-your-dog/ 

  12. https://acaai.org/