About 15% of the United States population suffers from some kind of pet allergy. Quite often, however, people can live quite successfully with a dog even when they do have allergies. If you have dog allergies that are not life-threatening, here are some strategies that can allow you to comfortably keep canine companionship in your home.
Choose your breed wisely. Contrary to popular belief, short haired dogs are not necessarily easier to tolerate than long haired dogs. The source of dog allergy is usually in dander, which carries tiny amounts of proteins secreted by the animal’s skin, which are then released into the air. NOTE: Some people are also allergic to dog urine and/or saliva. Only an allergist can confirm this with a skin test, but if that is the source of your allergy, choice of breed will not make a significant difference.
After searching I found that while no dog is truly non-allergenic, The American Kennel Club identifies the following breeds as best choices for allergy sufferers. Different breeds seem to affect people in different ways, so the only way to know if you will have an allergic reaction to a breed is to spend time with it. Have the allergic person visit the breeder and sit down among the dogs for a while to allow their body time to react (or not react) to the animals. Better to invest this time up front than have to face the heartbreaking decision to return a pup to its kennel after becoming attached to it.
Best Dogs for Allergy Sufferers:
- Bedlington Terrier
- Bichon Frise
- Cairn Terrier
- Chinese Crested
- Coton de Tulear
- Fox Terrier
- Irish Water Spaniel
- Kerry Blue Terrier
- Poodle (any size)
- Portuguese Water Dog
- Shih Tzu
- Soft Coated Wheaten Terrier
- Yorkshire Terrier
These additional tips will create a more comfortable living environment for the dog and its owners:
- Shampooing your dog weekly can remove up to 84% of the allergens in a dog’s fur. Use a dog shampoo, not a human shampoo or liquid dish soap, which can dry out the dog’s skin, causing scratching and the release of more dander in the air.
- To further keep your dog’s coat healthy and dander to a minimum, feed your pet a good quality dog food and consider coat supplements, available from a pet store or your vet. Also, regular brushing outdoors will reduce shedding and circulate the natural oils in the dog’s skin. Have a non-allergic member of the household do the brushing if possible.
- Maintain a dog-free zone, especially in the bedroom. If possible, remove carpet from the bedroom and use only throw rugs and you can wash in hot water. Consider blinds instead of curtains or drapes, which attract dander and dust.
- Use a high quality HEPA filter on your furnace and AC unit.
- Invest in a central vacuum system. Installation of a central vacuum system in your home can be completed by a qualified installer in an afternoon with surprisingly little disruption or mess. The portable central vacuum system hose connects to outlets in the walls. It carries dust, dirt and fine allergic particles away from living spaces and into an air-tight compartment in your basement, garage or even a closet. High-quality vacuum cleaners will redistribute some of these contaminants back into your indoor air, but a central vacuum system removes virtually all of them.