If you have a dog, or want to, you’re certainly not alone. Over 100 million of the four-legged friends are owned in the United States, in some 54% of households. But living with a pet doesn’t always bring the anticipated joy. In fact, it can be downright miserable for those with allergies. 

If you think you’ll be unaffected by so-called hypoallergenic dogs, think again. According to Bernadine Cruz, American Veterinary Medical Association spokesman, there’s no such thing. “Hypo” is defined as less than normal, not completely free from. Unfortunately, people buy a so-labeled animal thinking they won’t have any problems, then later need to re-home it. Before adding a pet to your clan, understand what causes allergic reactions. Then decide whether you’re willing to do the extra work to keep a hound in your home. 

I’m Not Crying

So, you just brought home the most adorable puppy. What could possibly go wrong? Red, itchy or watery eyes, runny or stuffy nose, sneezing  — all symptoms of an allergic reaction. It’s not the animal, per se, but a protein shed in its saliva and skin. Allergy-causing dander (dead skin full of protein) attaches to fur, then spreads as your dog brushes against furniture, clothing or even walls.

Which Pets Are Best for Allergy Sufferers?

Unfortunately, there is no “best dog” for people with allergies, and no responsible breeder would promise such. However, some are considered less problematic because they have short or curly hair. A few of those less allergenic breeds include:

Still, a hairless or short-haired pooch is not necessarily foolproof. It just means that there will be less dander-coated fur being shed on your couch and carpet. The good news: When hypoallergenic dogs are crossbred, the offspring may be less likely to flare up your allergies. Thus, you may not be restricted to a purebred canine. 

Should I Give Up My Dream?

You don’t have to crush your child’s (or your childhood) dream of owning a dog, just because your eyes get a little itchy every time you think about it. But owning one, even breeds less likely to cause allergies, will require some extra effort on your part. To reduce the intensity of your reaction, the Humane Society of the United States recommends owners:

  • Bathe dogs weekly. A regular bath gets rid of built-up dander. More frequent bathing isn’t recommended, as it could dry out delicate skin.
  • Declare a pet-free zone. Designate an area — like a bedroom — and keep the dog out.
  • Use a HEPA air purifier. Filters are designed to remove the microscopic, airborne particles that you can’t otherwise sweep up or vacuum.
  • Keep up with housecleaning. Dust collecting items such as blankets, couch covers, pillows and curtains should be washed regularly.

Working with an allergist also might help. It won’t be a quick fix, but immunotherapy treatments may decrease your sensitivity.

Can I Take It for a Test Drive?

Before committing to full-time pet ownership, spend some time getting to know your future housemate. Visit the dog beforehand, bringing along all the other humans who will be living in your home. This way you can test if you are compatible allergy-wise, in temperament, and with any other surprises before committing. 

Don’t be discouraged if the first meet and greet doesn’t work out. It’s a good strategy to try several kinds of dogs for allergy sufferers. All the better for avoiding the trauma — for your family and your pooch — of welcoming Fido, discovering you’re incompatible and then needing to re-home it.

Are you prepared for a commitment? Are your plans to deal with potential allergies lined up? You’re ready to find your perfect pooch on KSL Classifieds.