Are there hypoallergenic dogs & cats?
Veterinary & Aquatic Services Department, Drs. Foster & Smith

Q. Is there such thing as a hypoallergenic pet?
 
A. People that are allergic to animals are often allergic to the dander (dead skin that is continually shed), the saliva, or the urine. As people that suffer from allergies can tell you, there are often certain types of animals that they are more allergic to than others. In addition, there may be certain animals within a given species that they are more allergic to than others. This appears particularly true with cats.

There are no 'hypoallergenic' dogs or cats   all dogs and cats could cause allergic symptoms in people. Similarly, there are no dogs or cats which do not shed. All cats and dogs shed, some dogs have a much denser hair coat than others and shed a larger quantity of hair than those with a thin hair coat. But since the dander and not the hair is the problem, shedding is not that important in allergy control. Some breeds, in general, appear to have less dander and these include Poodles, Terriers, and Schnauzers. As we mentioned earlier, many people are allergic to certain types or individual animals and not others.

A study by the Long Island College Hospital in Brooklyn, New York did find something amazing when they examined over 300 human patients with allergic rhinitis. They looked at possible causes for the patients' allergies. They found that of the 300 people, 96 had light-colored cats, 145 had dark-colored cats, and 80 had no cats. They found an amazing correlation between allergies and the coat color of cats owned by the patients. Owners of dark cats were two to four times more likely to show moderate or severe clinical signs compared to the others. Owners of light-colored cats had no more clinical signs than those patients who did not own cats. Researchers suggest that dark-colored cats may have more of an allergen called 'Fel d 1.'

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