Allergies can cause all sorts of nuisances and disruptions to everyday life, especially when it comes to introducing a furry friend to your home. Choosing the right dog breed can be a long-winded process, a decision which can become even more complicated when dog allergies are brought into the mix.
If you’ve been thinking about adopting a dog but have concerns about being allergic to your potential pooch, our guide will provide plenty of information on which dog breeds are hypoallergenic to help you make an informed decision on what’s best for you.
What causes dog allergies?
Many people assume that it’s the dog’s hair that causes their allergies to flare up, but this is very rarely the case. The biggest cause of dog allergies comes from certain proteins which are released through their skin, saliva, urine and mucus. When these proteins are released into the air, those of us who are more susceptible to allergic reactions may begin to suffer from pet allergy symptoms such as itchy eyes or sneezing.
In some cases, however, the allergies aren’t triggered by the dog or its proteins, but by other materials that have hidden themselves within the dog’s fur. It’s very easy for the likes of dust and pollen to latch onto dog hair, which leads people to mistake their reaction for a dog allergy rather than anything else.
To help discover exactly what it is that’s causing an allergic reaction when you’re around dogs, it’s best to seek advice from your GP. They will usually suggest a skin test, which could identify the root cause of your allergic reactions.
Help - I’m allergic to my dog all of a sudden!
If you’ve suddenly developed an allergic reaction to a dog that you’ve owned for years, chances are that your symptoms are caused by other materials within your dog’s fur, or worse yet, hidden in its bedding or your furniture. It’s best to identify any other causes and eliminate these before blaming the pooch for your allergic reaction.
What are the best ‘hypoallergenic dogs’?
The truth is, hypoallergenic dog breeds don’t exist and the term has been developed based on breeds that have been ‘less likely’ to cause an allergic reaction. Every dog produces the proteins that cause allergy symptoms to flare up and all dogs are likely to carry other materials that can also spark a reaction.
However, it is true that there are some breeds that produce a smaller amount of these proteins, along with possessing characteristics that make it harder for external materials to hide within their fur. Therefore it’s these pooches that are considered the best dog breeds for allergies.
Choosing the best dog breed for your allergies
There are two factors to consider when choosing a dog breed that’s less likely to stir up your allergies - the size of the dog and its fur.
Smaller dogs are much less likely to cause a reaction than bigger dogs, due to the level of proteins they produce and release at one time. With fewer proteins being released, you’re less likely to suffer from a reaction.
Consider dogs with a wired or curly coat before those with smooth or thick coats. They are much less likely to shed hair and skin than other breeds, which can prevent the protein from causing an allergic reaction, as well any dust or pollen that might be a contributing factor.
Five popular dog breeds for dog allergy sufferers
- Bichon Frise
- Toy Poodle
- Italian Greyhound
Five dog breeds considered unsuitable for those with allergies
- German Shepherd
- Saint Bernard
- Labrador Retriever
As well as your allergies, there are a number of other factors to consider when choosing which dog breed is best for you, your home and your lifestyle.
Can dog allergies go away?
Depending on what is causing your allergic reaction around dogs and the sensitivity of your allergy, you may find that with a little care and consideration, your symptoms could be lessened over time.
There are a number of tips and tricks that you can try out yourself at home.
How to reduce or get rid of dog allergies naturally
First things first, try to prevent your dog from licking you when possible, as you could be having an allergic reaction to their saliva. This should be the first step towards reducing your chances of having an allergic reaction.
Keep your home as clean as possible
- Keep on top of dusting, hoovering and mopping around the house, to keep the allergy sources to a minimum.
- Wipe down surfaces as often as possible, as particles which can cause reactions can sit on any surface, including harder materials.
- Opt for wooden or tiled floors where possible, or restrict the amount of time your dog spends in carpeted rooms.
- Train your dog not to jump on the bed, sofa or anywhere else where they could leave traces of skin, saliva or pollen, to name a few.
- Invest in some HEPA filters for your hoover and any air purifiers you have - they can remove the likes of dust, skin and pollen particles from the air and trap them.
- Wash and/or change your dog’s bedding regularly - this is a popular spot for particles to make a home.
- Keep windows open wherever possible, to help air out your home. This should only be done if you have confirmed that your allergies aren’t related to pollen.
Care for your dog’s skin and coat
- Try adding SuperDog Health & Vitality to your dog’s daily diet - designed to help keep their skin and coat in a healthy condition, these supplements could help to reduce the amount of skin particles that are released.
- Have your dog brushed or groomed as often as possible, to remove any excess hair and other particles that could be causing an allergic reaction. If possible, grooming and brushing should be carried out outdoors or at a professional dog groomer.
- If your dog suffers from dry skin, then a regular coat conditioning may help to moisturise their skin and reduce any skin particles being released into the air.
- After walking your dog, try rinsing its coat or wiping them over with a clean, damp cloth if possible - this will help to reduce the amount of dust or pollen in their fur.
For some people, it is possible to own a dog if you have allergies. However this depends entirely on the severity of your own allergic reactions and the impact they are having on your health and lifestyle. It’s recommended that you speak to your GP before choosing whether or not to adopt a dog, to find out the root cause of your allergies and to assess your own individual options.