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Animal Skin and Allergy Clinic Blog

Hypoallergenic Pets—Do They Really Exist?

Hypoallergenic cat.

Are hypoallergenic pets creatures of myth like unicorns and fire-breathing dragons? If you suffer from pet allergies, here is some good news! Hypoallergenic pets DO exist!

Hypoallergenic. Does “Hypo” Mean I Won’t Have an Allergic Response?

No. The prefix “hypo” means less than, while the prefix “hyper” means more. A hypoallergenic pet means that it is less likely to cause an allergic reaction in allergy-sensitive pet lovers.

I Want a Furry Pet, But I’m Worried I’ll Have an Allergic Reaction

Consult with your physician about your sensitivities to allergens. You can be tested for known allergens in pets, and your doctor can offer recommendations about which pets may be okay for you. 

Maybe your pet will be a hairless breed, so you won’t need to worry about dander. You’ll still have to bathe your pet regularly to clean off other allergens your pets may collect on their skin.

Why Am I Allergic to Most Cats?

An allergy-sensitive person can walk into a home and know in moments if that house has a cat. Their nose and eyes will tingle and itch. The allergic reaction is caused by Fel d1, a protein found in cat saliva. Here is more information about cat allergies:

  • When cats groom themselves, Fel d1 is deposited on the cat’s fur.
  • The cat’s saliva dries, and the Fel d1 becomes airborne.
  • A sensitive nose will react to the Fel d1 in the air or on carpet or furniture.
  • Watery eyes, sneezing, and itching begin!
  • Intact and neutered male cats produce more Fel d1.
  • Cats with darker fur will have higher levels of Fel d1.
  • Kittens produce little Fel d1.

Are There Hypoallergenic Cat Breeds?

You are in luck! There are breeds of cats that produce less Fel d1. You’ll want to test your sensitivity before selecting an individual cat. Here are the most hypoallergenic breeds:

  • Balinese
  • Bengal
  • Cornish Rex
  • Devon Rex
  • Javanese
  • Oriental Shorthair
  • Russian Blue
  • Siberian
  • Sphynx

There is also a new diet on the horizon that will reduce Fel d1 production in all cats. Ask us if you are interested in learning more about this diet!

Dogs and Human Allergies

It’s not just proteins in a dog’s saliva that can cause itching and sneezing. Dander and urine can also cause an allergic response in humans. As with cats, you’ll want to test dogs for an allergic reaction before bringing them into your home. Puppies, unlike kittens, can cause allergies to flare up, too!

Are There Hypoallergenic Dog Breeds?

Many breeds are hypo (less than) allergenic. Keep in mind that the less fur a dog has, the less dander will be produced.

  • Afghan Hound
  • American Hairless Terrier
  • Bedlington Terrier
  • Bichon Frise
  • Chinese Crested
  • Coton de Tulear
  • Giant Schnauzer
  • Havanese
  • Irish Water Spaniel
  • Kerry Blue Terrier
  • Komondor
  • Lagotto Romagnolo
  • Maltese
  • Miniature Schnauzer
  • Peruvian Inca Orchid
  • Poodle
  • Portuguese Water Dog
  • Puli
  • Shih Tzu
  • Soft Coated Wheaten Terrier
  • Spanish Water Dog
  • Standard Schnauzer
  • Xoloitzcuintli
  • Yorkshire Terrier

These breeds may be more allergy-friendly, but every individual dog is different and will have a different effect on allergy-sensitive people.

Pets Have Allergies, Too!

As pet dermatology specialists, we know how to diagnose and treat most pet skin conditions. Once you find a hypoallergenic pet companion, schedule an appointment for a thorough checkup. We want our pet families to live itch-free and happy lives! Call us at (425) 742-0342 or request an appointment online.