4 animal allergy myths – and the truth behind them

animal allergy myths

4 animal allergy myths – and the truth behind them

We’re a nation of animal lovers, with 57% of UK households taking care of 38 million pets. And is it any surprise? They’re adorable, faithful companions, and endless entertainment. So it’s such a shame when someone has an allergy to an animal. As much as they love dogs or cats, they can’t help but have watery eyes or break out in hives the moment they come into contact.

Enter hypoallergenic pets. These are supposedly more allergy-friendly breeds that are less likely to trigger an allergic reaction. But it isn’t that simple. There are a lot of myths around them. And today, we want to address some of those and answer whether hypoallergenic animals really are the perfect choice.

#1 – Hypoallergenic pets prevent allergies

The biggest myth is that “hypoallergenic” means they won’t ever trigger your allergy. This isn’t true. Pet allergies are triggered by certain proteins that each animal will produce, and hypoallergenic breeds still create these proteins.

This myth may come from the fact that certain breeds are okay with some people with allergies. They might react to a Pomeranian but not a Poodle. Or these differences may vary from person to person. In these cases, it may come down to the specific protein someone is allergic to. So a hypoallergenic breed might be good for one person but not another.

#2 – It’s animal fur that triggers allergies

Even though there’s a lot of talk about fur when it comes to hypoallergenic pets, it’s not actually the fur that’s causing the problem. Pet allergies are usually triggered by animal “dander”. This is the equivalent of dandruff – it’s flakes of their dead skin.

Pets going about their business are going to shed dander in the same way we shed our skin. So when they’re living in the same space as you, that dander can aggravate you. Animal saliva and even urine can also trigger our allergies – but not typically the fur.

#3 – Hairless pets are a great alternative

There are some breeds – namely the Sphynx cat and Chinese Crested dog – that are practically hairless. And some people believe these breeds are perfect for people with animal allergies.

But as we just said, the fur isn’t a factor. A hairless cat or dog is still going to produce saliva and dander. If you stroke them, you’re still coming into contact with the proteins that trigger your allergies.

#4 – Animals with no fur are fine

Again, it’s not that simple. Yes, if you’re allergic to dogs you may not be allergic to birds. But that doesn’t make them hypoallergenic. There’s still the potential that someone is allergic to them. It just might make it a better pet for you in particular.

They’re just as capable of producing feather dander, and their unique proteins can easily be someone’s allergy. Airborne faecal particles can also be bad for someones allergies.

You should be able to enjoy the companionship of a pet if you want. But don’t misunderstand how animal allergies work. Make the choice that is right for you (or your family members). There are ways to have pets in the same home as someone with allergies, but you need to be aware of those repercussions. The more information you have, the better a decision you can make.

If you ever have any allergy concerns or want to diagnose an animal allergy once and for all, get in touch. Our allergy experts can guide you through the process and provide the advice you need to live a comfortable life. Simply register as a new patient or call us on 02031 433 449.

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