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In an Allergy Household?

Written by Chris Bark, dog writer at OodleLife

Dogs can be a source of allergens for many asthma sufferers. It can be difficult to be a dog lover and also live well in a closed household with a pooch that leaves allergens everywhere.

Many asthma sufferers give up on owning a dog altogether. This no longer needs to be the case. Many households with allergies are living comfortably by selecting particular types of dogs or designer hybrid mixes, and also implementing simple cleaning and hygiene strategies.

It’s not just dogs. Cats, rabbits and even horses can be a trigger due to the allergens and dander left behind on clothing, furniture and in the air.

When you think pets and allergies, many people first think of dog fur and shedding. The reason that asthma suffers have trouble with animals like dogs is actually a little more complicated than just animal hair.

Our furry friends produce animal dander from the hair, skin, urine and saliva. If you suffer from allergy or asthma the contact with any type of dander can be a trigger.

Reducing the volume of dander in a household is the best way to remove the cause of the asthma or allergic reaction.

Household Tricks to Reduce Dander

  • Washing hands every time, you pat your dog
  • If you pick up or play with your dog, consider changing your shirt afterwards. Allergy inducing hair, saliva and skin dander can be caught on the garment
  • Regularly professionally groom your dog. DIY grooming can be fun, but is a no go for an allergy sufferer. 
  • Have your dog or puppy sleep in a crate OUTSIDE of your bedroom. They are sleeping anyway, so there is no need to have unnecessary hours of exposure.
  • Create an exclusion zone that is puppy free. The bedroom is a great room to be off limits to your dander producing dog completely.
  • Vacuum the house using a vacuum cleaner that has a animal hair filter. Using a robot vacuum to do an automated quick clean every day to reduce the total volume in the house.
  • A HEPA filtering desktop fan can detect allergens and strip them from the air.

A hypoallergenic dog – a solution?

Reducing the total amount of dander present in a house can also be done by picking a low-shedding dog.

The less a dog sheds, the less allergy debris it leaves behind! This also makes it easier for the at-home cleaning techniques to effectively reduce the total volume of asthma inducing allergens.

There has been a massive surge in popularity of low and non-shedding dog breeds in the last ten years. An ever increasing number of households are prioritizing allergy friendly dog breeds when selecting a new furry family member.

Popular low shedding dog breeds include

  • Portuguese Water Dogs
  • Poodles
  • Shih Tzu
  • Poodle Mix breeds like the Labradoodle, Goldendoodle and Bernedoodle are wildly popular for their non-sheddings coats
  • Yorkshire Terrier
  • Schnauzer

Most of the dogs on this list have long hairs rather than shorter fur. Even though fur and hair are made up of the same protein building blocks, the longer hairs are less likely to be dropped by the dog.

Dog breeds with hair rather than fur also usually have only one layer of coat. Dogs with fur sometimes have two layers of coat called a double coat. A double coat is often associated with higher shedding and is also typically seasonal. This means a drop of fur after winter that can be a nightmare for the allergy sufferer.

Dogs that shed less are typically much more comfortable to be around for asthma sufferers. Choosing one of the low to non-shedding breeds listed above is a safe bet. Before deciding to adopt a dog though, spend time with the dog or its parents to ensure any reaction is minor.

If there is a significant reaction, don’t expect this to change at home over the coming years, even with excellent household cleaning and dander volume reduction strategy.

A Note of Caution

There is no such thing as a completely hypoallergenic dog breed. This is because the dander that causes allergies and asthma reactions doesn’t come just from the hair or fur of the dog coat.

In fact, one of the most common causes of allergy reactions is dander from dog saliva. Think about how much frequently a dog licks your hands, face, its own mouth, the floor, and even its toys or your couch cushions.  You can see why allergy sufferers need to be cautious when introducing a dog to the household.

Take time when deciding to add a pet to your family. It is a long term commitment. If allergies are a concern, consider a low shedding dog. Spend time with the dog as a trial first. Have an open conversation with any breeder or shelter about the best steps for you to take.

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