Can I Still Have a Dog If I’m Allergic?

There’s no doubt that pet allergies are a pain, but if you are a dog lover, you might still be wondering if there’s a way to bring home a new furry family member. The answer is: it depends.

Approximately 10% of the population is allergic to dogs

If you already have pet allergies, there are definitely a few things you can do to ease your reactions:

Choose a breed that’s considered less allergenic

Remember that—like humans—all dogs are different! So even if you choose a breed that is known to shed less and create less dander, it really comes down to the specific dog and the specific human. Talk to the shelter or the breeder to find out if you can spend some time with your prospective pup before you make a commitment.

Poodles, Yorkshire terriers, bichon frise, Maltese dogs, and schnauzers are all popular choices for allergy sufferers. Doodle mixes are often said to be hypoallergenic, but a doodle puppy may or may not have inherited the coat of their poodle parent. Know also that allergies might not flare up while your dog is still a puppy because their coat will not yet have changed. Ask the breeder if you can meet the puppy’s parents, or if you are adopting from a shelter, consider choosing an adult dog.

Clean your home meticulously

We’re sorry to have to suggest it, but it does help a lot. Vacuuming and dusting regularly reduces your contact with allergens. Don’t forget about your air ducts, if you have them! Pet dander can settle in the vents and be recirculated, so make sure you vacuum inside those and the cold air returns, too.

Reconsider your flooring type

Hardwoods floors and tile definitely trap less dust and dander than carpet. It’s also easier to give them a thorough cleaning.

Groom and bathe your dog regularly

Keeping your house clean becomes easier if your dog is clean, too! Whether you are doing this yourself, or making appointments with a trusted groomer, this limits the dander buildup and reduces the likelihood that you’ll come into contact with it.

Train your dog to keep their tongue to themselves

For some allergy sufferers, a dog’s saliva can cause more trouble than the dander. If that sounds familiar, training your dog not to lick you will be one of the first orders of business!

Keep over-the-counter antihistamines and allergy tablets on hand.

They can reduce the irritation if you do come into contact with your pet’s dander or saliva.

Ask the breeder if you can meet the puppy’s parents. Or if you are adopting from a shelter, consider choosing an adult dog.

Could dogs prevent allergies in children?

Researchers from the University of California and the University of Michigan discovered something pretty interesting. They exposed mice to dust from homes with dogs and discovered that the mice developed a certain type of bacteria in their gut as a result of the exposure. The bacteria appears to protect the mice from exposure to common allergens and some other bacteria. Why is this important? Well, it could explain why babies and children raised in homes with dogs often experience fewer allergies and asthma occurrences.

By studying these gut bacteria, scientists hope to find a way to help allergy sufferers by preventing the allergies from developing in the first place!

For the rest of us, though, keep on vacuuming and be sure to enjoy all the wonderful moments you have with your dog.