As someone with dog allergies who nevertheless has been around many dogs as a trainer, a fosterer, and an owner, Candice has learned to not trust the promise of a “hypoallergenic” dog. She’s met low-shedding, hypoallergenic poodles and Portuguese water dogs that supposedly shouldn’t trigger her allergies yet very much did. But she has also met fluffy, longhaired breeds similar to huskies and spitzes that set off nary a sneeze. “I’ve had more misery with short-haired dogs,” she told me. That features her own Belgian Malinois, Fiore, with whom her symptoms got so bad that she began allergy shots. Fiore’s equally furry full sister Fernando, though? Totally high-quality. No response!
Candice—whose last name I’m not using for medical-privacy reasons—just isn’t alone in discerning no rhyme or reason to which dogs she’s allergic to. In studies, scientists have found no difference in how much of the dog allergen Can f 1 is present in homes with hypoallergenic versus non-hypoallergenic breeds. One study found no difference in the quantity of allergen on the fur of various dogs either. One other actually found more allergen on the fur of hypoallergenic breeds. Hypoallergenic doesn’t appear to mean much in any respect.
“There’s really, truly no completely, 100% hypoallergenic dog. Even hairless dogs could make the allergen,” says John James, a spokesperson for the Asthma and Allergy Foundation of America. “It’s really a marketing term,” says David Stukus, an allergist at Nationwide Kid’s Hospital and a member of AAFA’s Medical Scientific Council. Once I asked several allergists across the country if perplexed owners ever are available in allergic to their expensive, supposedly hypoallergenic dog, their answers were unequivocal: “On a regular basis.” Certainly one of the most important sources of misinformation on this topic is, actually, a former U.S. president. “When President Obama was in office, they allegedly had a hypoallergenic dog because their daughter had allergies, and that didn’t help matters,” Stukus told me, referring to the Obamas’ first Portuguese water dog, Bo. “Everybody got Portuguese water dogs.” And—surprise—they will still cause allergies.
Technically, hypoallergenic signifies that a dog is less prone to cause allergies, not that it never causes allergies, though this distinction is usually lost in colloquial use. But even then, there is no such thing as a such thing as a consistently hypoallergenic breed. That’s because, although breeds that shed less fur or hair are commonly considered hypoallergenic, the fur or hair itself just isn’t what causes allergies. Moderately, it’s proteins present within the dander, or small flakes of skin, or saliva. All dogs make these proteins, and all dogs have skin and saliva.
It’s true, though, that an individual might find one dog less allergenic than one other. The studies that couldn’t find a transparent pattern of lower allergens in hypoallergenic breeds did find differences amongst individual dogs of the identical breed. And a smaller dog is usually going to shed less dander than a giant one. On size alone, “it does make sense that a chihuahua is less problematic than a Great Dane,” says Richard Lockey, an allergist on the University of South Florida. Dogs also make an entire suite of proteins that could cause allergies. The very best known is Can f 1, although there are seven others. Some people may be more allergic to one in every of these proteins than one other; some dogs might make more of one in every of these proteins than one other. Whether a selected human actually finally ends up allergic to a selected dog depends upon these details—and may’t be predicted from the breed alone. For that reason, doctors recommend that anyone with allergies spend time with a particular dog before taking it home. “I literally say, ‘Have your child hug them, rub their face on them.’ If nothing happens, that’s a superb sign,” Stukus said.
People who find themselves allergic may also develop tolerance to a particular dog over time. Candice, for instance, eventually developed a tolerance to her German-shepherd mix, Tesla, despite getting all watery-eyed and sneezy at first. As well as, allergy shots, also called immunotherapy, will help people construct up tolerance by progressively increasing exposure to an allergen; Candice eventually resorted to them with Fiore. The inverse of this principle explains the Thanksgiving effect, where individuals who leave for faculty come home suddenly allergic to their childhood pet after not being exposed for a very long time.
Nasal steroid sprays and antihistamines similar to Claritin and Allegra, which can be found over-the-counter, will also be used to administer allergies lately. That wasn’t all the time the case, recalls Lockey, who began practicing medicine within the Sixties. Back then, there weren’t good medications for controlling allergies, and he would just tell patients to maintain their pets outdoors. “That just doesn’t go anymore,” he told me. Now, few dogs are kept exclusively outdoors, especially in cities. They sleep in our homes and even our beds. As dogs have change into physically enmeshed in our lives, dog allergies can now not be as easily ignored as when the animals lived outside.
The parable of an allergy-free dog persists, though, and Stukus often sees this frustration play out in families with allergic kids. “That is the purpose that I hear on a regular basis from families: It’s the grandparents,” he told me. Parents might quickly discover that their kids are allergic to “hypoallergenic” dogs. But grandparents, looking forward to their grandkids to go to, keep off because their expensive pet is speculated to be hypoallergenic—“The Obamas had the identical dog. It’s high-quality!”—just for the youngsters to find yourself coughing and miserable. He keeps hearing the identical lament. “They only don’t understand,” the parents tell him, “that there’s no such thing as a hypoallergenic dog.”