Individuals with pet allergies are not actually allergic to cat, dog, hamster, rabbit, or horse hair but to the dander that each animal sheds. Dander in furry animals is similar to dandruff in humans and even animals that do not shed fur shed dander into the environment.
Most allergy specialists will recommend that individuals with pet allergies do not bring furry, dander-producing pets into their home. This is well-intended and sound advice as allergy sufferers would likely be more physically comfortable not sharing their home with a furry pet. For allergy sufferers with mild to moderate reactions, the emotional benefits of having a pet trump the physical discomfort or a runny nose, sneezing, or itchy eyes. Individuals with severe allergic reaction should heed their allergist’s warning and avoid adopting a furry pet.
Also remember that there is no breed of dog that is completely hypo-allergenic so beware of breeders who try to sell dogs with that trait. There are, however, certain breeds of small dogs that produce less dander and this can help alleviate the allergy symptoms. Another helpful tactic is to get a breed that does not bark much, thus reducing the amount of saliva you’ll encounter.
Small Dog Breeds Good For Allergy Sufferers
Poodles and Poodle-Mixes: Toy and Miniature Poodles share the same gene as their large cousin which keeps them from shedding. Though the shedding is not directly related to most allergies, it can cause a secondary allergic reaction. They also produce less dander than other dogs. Some small Poodle mixes are the Affenpoo (Affenpinscher/Poodle), Bich-Poo (Bichon Frise/Poodle), Bossi-Poo (Boston Terrier/Poodle), and the Pugapoo (Pug/Poodle).
Terriers: Many terriers are good choices for a person with dog allergies. Because their coat is so dense and wiry, there is little shedding (which causes the secondary allergies) and they have a lower amount of dander. These include the Border Terrier, Cairn Terrier, Tibetan Terrier, and West Highland White Terrier.
Lapdogs: Some of the small lapdogs are considered better for allergy sufferers, though many are great barkers which means more saliva is let loose into the air. The Bichon Frise does not shed and produces slightly less dander. This is true also for the Maltese and Havanese.
Toy Dogs: The less there is of your pup, the less dander there will be. Dogs such as the Yorkie, Chihuahua, and Pomeranian produce a similar amount of dander per pound to other dogs and their tiny size means there will be far less dander in the house.
Seven Ways to Reduce the Allergens
1. Groom Often–by grooming your small dog every day, you can greatly reduce the allergen. Bathing them weekly is especially helpful as it removes the dander.
2. Keep the Bedroom Off-Limits–it may be tough to learn to sleep without your pooch, but keeping the bedroom off-limits to him will create a allergen-free zone for you.
3. Use a HEPA Filter–invest in a HEPA air cleaner. It will catch much of the dander.
4. Vacuum–vacuuming regularly will get the dander which has settled in the rugs and couch.
5. Wash Your Hands–make it a habit to wash your hands after every petting session with your pooch.
6. Give Your Dog Omega 3s–by including fish oil in your pup’s diet, you will ensure that his coat is healthy and it will reduce dander.
7. Consider Medication–this is for you, not your pooch. There are many allergy medicines on the market which will help relieve any symptoms. Your best bet is to see your doctor who can recommend the best one for pet allergies.
Often, a person will be allergic to one breed and not another regardless of its known dander production. Spending time with a specific breed before buying or adopting it can help you determine how you will react to it. And don’t rush out to buy a Chinese Crested as hairless dogs can cause even more allergic reactions because their dander has no fur catching it before it goes into the air. With some preparation and by following a few, simple rules, you can have your small dog and pet it, too!