By definition, the term “hypoallergenic” refers to something unlikely to cause an allergic reaction. There are numerous dog breeds widely considered to be “allergy-friendly”, but dogs, by their very nature, cannot be truly hypoallergenic. It’s not just canine dander and hair that’s to blame for triggering human allergic responses. A specific protein in urine and saliva is also responsible.
With all that in mind, what is all this buzz at the dog park about “hypoallergenic” dogs?
The term “hypoallergenic” dogs simply refers to breeds that are generally perceived as being compatible with allergic people. Some research supports the positive impact of certain breeds, but the term is sort of a misnomer. In other words, there’s no current scientific basis to claims that certain breeds are “hypoallergenic” dogs.
It’s natural to assume that allergies are directly caused by shedding, but they are typically more aggravated by the protein in dog saliva and urine. When they groom themselves (or after they urinate), the protein dries on their hair or dander (dried, dead, flaky skin).
Breaking It Down
The jury is still officially out on “hypoallergenic” dogs. But there are definitely some breeds more than others that may have a lower impact on people with allergies simply because:
- They shed less; consequently they spread less dander around the home
- They are hairless dog breeds
- They are smaller and produce less saliva (thus less allergenic protein)
- They tend to self-groom more easily and often
The American Kennel Club suggests these hypoallergenic dog breeds can help people find the right match, but it does not currently endorse a certain type.
Creating a Balance at Home
There are some great methods to cut down on allergens in your home, such as:
- Bathe your pet on a regular basis (up to 2 times a week) to remove dirt, debris, dander, grass and dead hair. Be sure to use a special product that won’t dry out their skin.
- Provide a special diet for your dog that helps reduce the allergenic saliva. Essential fatty acids can reduce shedding and buildup of dander.
- Opt for non-carpet flooring that can be easily swept up. Shampoo rugs at least once a year. Invest in a powerful vacuum cleaner.
- Run a high-efficiency particulate air (HEPA) purifier to clean up breathing space.
- Reduce how much time your pet spends in your room and on your bed.
- Use seat covers in your vehicle and wash them regularly.
- Ask your doctor to test you for allergies. In addition to dander, urine, or saliva, you may have strong reactions to items brought inside by your dog, such as grass or pollen.
Please let us know if you have further questions about “hypoallergenic” dogs. As with anything related to your dog’s health and welfare, our team is always here for you at Oakhurst Veterinary Hospital.