Asthma attacks related to dogs and cats are caused by pet dander. Although no dog or cat is “allergy free,” certain dog and cat breeds are marketed as being “hypoallergenic,” allegedly safer for allergy-prone individuals. It is important to keep in mind that people react to animals in different ways. A certain breed might cause an asthma attack in one person but not in someone else.
Pet Allergies and Asthma
Pet allergies are caused by pet dander. Pet dander is not animal hair, but rather protein found in dead skin flakes, saliva and urine. Allergic reactions vary from person to person. One person may suffer asthma symptoms around only cats, where another person may be more sensitive to dogs. Other types of furry pets can also cause allergic reactions, such as rabbits, horses and gerbils.
Asthma is a lung condition that is caused by airway inflammation. Pet dander is one of many triggers of asthma. Hypoallergenic pets are thought to have a decreased likelihood of causing an asthma attack or allergic reaction than other animals.
If you are considering adopting a mixed breed and looking for hypoallergenic qualities, consider:
- dogs with extremely short or no hair
- dogs with “human like” hair
- dogs with non-shedding hair
- small dogs.
Puppies and kittens have different coats than adult dogs and cats. So if you are purchasing a puppy or kitten, also check and see if you are allergic to the adult version of the particular breed.
The only way to determine you are allergic to a certain dog is to spend time with it. If you are allergic to dogs, some breeds which you may be less sensitive to include:
- Bichon Frise
- Chinese Crested
- Italian Greyhound
- Kerry Blue Terrier
- Miniature Schnauzer
- Portugese Water Dog
- Soft Coated Wheaten Terrier.
The only way to determine if you are allergic to a certain cat breed is to spend time with it. If you are allergic to cats, some breeds which you may be less sensitive to include:
- Cornish Rex
- Devon Rex
- Russian Blue
Animal Allergy Tips
If you have severe allergies, it may not be in your best interest to own a pet. Talk to your allergist or doctor about your allergy treatment and prevention options. You may be able to get a series of allergy shots to desensitize yourself to pet dander. You can also use hospital grade, high-efficiency air filters to remove dander from your home.
If you are adopting or purchasing a pet because it is hypoallergenic, it is a good idea to interact with the animal before taking it home. Remember, no animal is completely allergy-free. Avoid asthma problems by having your pet groomed often and keeping pet dander levels in your home low. Always keep asthma medication on hand in case of a sudden onset attack.
Allergyescape. (n.d.). The hypoallergenic dog. Retrieved March 20, 2009, from the Allergyescape Web site: http://www.allergyescape.com/hypoallergenic-dog.html.
Moore, C. (1996). Human allergies to pets. Retrieved March 20, 2009, from the K9Web.com Web site: http://www.k9web.com/dog-faqs/allergies.html.