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Dog Allergies - Hypoallergenic Dogs

Pediatric Allergy Basics

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Updated January 21, 2010

A Portuguese Water Dog is a hypoallergenic dog and may be a good option for kids with allergies.

A Portuguese Water Dog is often thought of as a hypoallergenic dog, since it doesn't shed, and may be a good option for kids with allergies.

Photo by Lee Feldstein

When kids ask for a dog, a lot of thought has to go into making sure your family and child is ready for a pet.

Is your child mature enough to handle the responsibility of taking care of a dog?

Would a pet pose a safety hazard to a newborn baby or young infant in the family?

Does your child have allergies, eczema, or asthma?

Dog Allergies

Like cats, many children are allergic to dogs. Allergies to dogs do seem to be less common though, maybe because dogs are more often outside pets and often sleep in a kennel, instead of a child's bed.

Still, allergies to dogs are common, and may begin even before you get your first dog. Children can develop dog allergies when they don't have a dog by their exposure to dog dander on other people who have dogs and visiting homes that have pet dogs.

And children without a dog allergy can't develop dog allergies after spending a few years with a dog.

Is your child allergic to dogs?

Does he develop allergy symptoms or have asthma flares after playing with dogs or being in a home that has dogs?

If you aren't sure if your child is allergic to dogs, and he already has other allergies, asthma, or eczema, then you might consider allergy testing to see if he is allergic to dogs.

Even if your child isn't allergic to dogs, keep in mind that other allergens, including pollen, dust, and mold, can collect on your dog's hair and trigger allergy and asthma symptoms.

Coping with Dog Allergies

Ideally, if your child has asthma or a dog allergy, you wouldn't get a dog in the first place.

If you do, some things that might help control your child's allergic responses to the dog include:

  • keep the dog out of your child's bedroom
  • use a HEPA air cleaner, especially in your child's bedroom
  • remove carpeting from your home, especially from any areas that the dog has access to
  • use an allergy proof cover on your child's pillow and mattress and practice other steps to control dust mites
  • wash your dog at least twice a week, although this would not be a good job for a child with dog allergies
  • vacuum regularly with a HEPA-equipped vacuum cleaner
  • have your child take any daily asthma and allergy medications that have prescribed to prevent his allergy and asthma symptoms from being triggered by the dog allergens (dander and saliva)

As a last resort, you could consider allergy shots to help control your child's allergies if nothing else is working. If the main trigger for your child's allergies is the dog, simply getting the dog another home might be a better, although maybe not a less painful option for your child.

Since it can months for the dog dander to disappear from your home, even after the dog is gone, it might be best to consider a different pet if you strongly suspect that your child is going to have worsening allergy or asthma symptoms if you get a dog.

Hypoallergenic Dogs

Can't you just get a hypoallergenic dog?

When considering this option, first remember that there are no allergy free dogs. A hypoallergenic dog is simply one that is less likely to cause allergies than other dogs. These dogs usually shed less hair and dander than other dogs, but can still cause allergies or trigger asthma symptoms in susceptible children.

Which dogs are considered to be hypoallergenic dogs?

According to the American Kennel Club, hypoallergenic dog breeds include the:

  • Bedlington Terrier
  • Bichon Frise
  • Chinese Crested (hairless)
  • Irish Water Spaniel
  • Kerry Blue Terrier
  • Maltese
  • Poodles (Toy, Miniature or Standard)
  • Portuguese Water Dog
  • Schnauzer (Miniature, Standard or Giant)
  • Soft Coated Wheaten Terrier
  • Viringo (Peruvian hairless)
  • Xoloitzcuintli (hairless)

These are not inexpensive dogs though and not dogs that you would typically find at a shelter. You can sometimes adopt them from a dog rescue center.

You might also consult your pediatrician or pediatric allergist before making the decision to get a dog if your child has allergies, eczema, or asthma.



Sources:

The role and remediation of animal allergens in allergic diseases. Chapman MD - J Allergy Clin Immunol - 01-MAR-2001; 107(3 Suppl): S414-21.

Animal danders. Erwin EA - Immunol Allergy Clin North Am - 01-AUG-2003; 23(3): 469-81.

Adkinson: Middleton's Allergy: Principles and Practice, 6th ed.

American College of Allergy, Asthma, & Immunology. Advice from your Allergist... Pet Allergy.

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