As many as 30% of people have an allergy to dogs and cats. While having a dog allergy can be disappointing for dog lovers, there are many ways to cope with symptoms and continue to love your furry friends.
One of the best ways to enjoy taking care of a furry companion, even if you have an allergy to dogs, is to find a hypoallergenic dog. Small, hypoallergenic dogs are all you need to enjoy being a dog parent without sneezing, itching, and coughing.
Let’s take a closer look at what you need to know about dog allergies, what causes them, how hypoallergenic dogs can help, and the best breeds to consider.
Everything You Need To Know About Dog Allergies
Before we take a look at the best small, hypoallergenic dogs, it’s important to understand dog allergies, what causes them, and what kind of symptoms you may experience.
Take a closer look below.
What Causes a Dog Allergy?
If you have a dog allergy, we can trace the cause back to your immune system, which functions to protect the body from foreign substances. Foreign substances can include germs, bacteria, viruses, airborne disease particles, and more.
When your immune system identifies a foreign invader, it responds in defense mode. This response can include a fever to destroy the foreign cells or coughing and sneezing to get the foreign substance out.
Dogs and cats carry dead skin cells in their fur, otherwise known as dander. It’s important to note that pet fur itself is not an allergen. Instead, the dander, urine, saliva, dust, and other allergens carried in their fur trigger the allergic reaction.
Sometimes, the immune system can detect dog dander as a foreign substance, too, just like a cold or flu virus. When this occurs, an allergic reaction is triggered to try and fight it off. Dander is a harmless substance but can result in an allergic reaction in some with overactive immune systems.
What Are the Symptoms of a Dog Allergy?
If you have a dog allergy, you may experience the following symptoms:
- Runny nose
- Watery eyes
- Itchy eyes and redness
- Nasal congestion
- Itchiness in the mouth, throat, or nose
- Facial swelling, pressure, and pain
- Difficulty breathing
- Chest tightness or pain
- Trouble sleeping
- Itchy skin or hives
If you have asthma or a skin condition in addition to a dog allergy, this may worsen your symptoms.
Can a Dog Allergy Cause Serious Allergic Reactions?
If you have asthma or another health concern, this may contribute to the severity of your allergic reaction. For instance, those with asthma or a lung condition are more likely to experience wheezing or difficulty breathing when exposed to pet dander.
In addition, many people wonder if you can experience severe allergic reactions like anaphylactic shock from exposure to dogs. The answer is yes and no. It’s possible to experience anaphylaxis from exposure to pet dander, but it is infrequent and typically accompanied by other severe allergies.
If you experience stomach pain, throat or tongue swelling, shortness of breath, vomiting, lightheadedness, low blood pressure, severe skin rash, or paleness after coming in contact with a dog, seek medical attention right away.
Should I See a Doctor If I Have a Dog Allergy?
Do you need to see a doctor if you have a pet allergy? If you’re only exhibiting mild symptoms, there’s no need to see a doctor. However, if you experience any severe signs or symptoms that don’t go away in a few hours, it’s best to seek medical attention.
You can also see your doctor if you’re interested in treatments for dog allergies. They’ll advise you on potential medications to consider or therapy treatments like allergy shots.
What Does It Mean When a Dog is Hypoallergenic?
It’s important to understand that no dog is 100% hypoallergenic. This term is thrown around quite often to describe breeds that are simply less likely to trigger an allergic reaction.
Those with severe dog allergies can still experience a reaction to hypoallergenic dogs, but it isn’t as common.
The primary quality of hypoallergenic dog breeds is that they are low-shedding animals. This could be because they don’t have any hair, don’t lose hair that often, or have short, single-layered coats without an undercoat to shed.
Some dogs also produce different proteins. Depending on the exact cause of your allergy to dogs, you may or may not be allergic to all dog types.
Dogs that have thick, long coats are more likely to shed and spread their dander throughout your home, making it more likely that you experience a reaction. These dogs also require regular brushing, which could contribute to loose hairs around the house.
Top 13 Small Hypoallergenic Dogs That Don’t Shed
If you suffer from dog allergies, don’t worry. These breeds are known for minimal shedding, and many of them are small enough to take with you wherever you go!
Poodles are one of the more popular breeds of small and big hypoallergenic dogs. You can find toy poodles and large poodles that don’t shed.
2. Yorkshire Terrier
Yorkshire terriers are known for their fine hair that is less like fur and more like human hair. This hair texture contributes to this breed’s ability to remain hypoallergenic. Yorkies do require regular upkeep for their fur, so be prepared for some more maintenance.
3. Shih Tzu
Originating from China, Shih Tzus are a hypoallergenic dog breed that requires regular grooming for their fur as well.
The ancient Greek breed of Maltese dogs is known for hypoallergenic coats and infrequent shedding.
5. Chinese Crested
This dog breed is hairless except on their head, ears, and feet. With a soft and hair-like coat that’s hypoallergenic where they do have hair, you can say goodbye to the sniffles and hello to cuddling.
6. Scottish Terriers
If you love Lady and the Tramp, you’ll love having a hypoallergenic Scottish terrier to keep you company without triggering your allergies. (Sharing a plate of spaghetti isn’t mandatory, but we won’t stop you.)
Havanese dogs have long silky coats that don’t shed or carry as much dander with them. These dogs are typically happy and playful.
Originating as an African hunting dog, basenji dogs are naturally hypoallergenic with little to no shedding.
9. Bedlington Terrier
This poofy dog breed is not only cute and fluffy but hypoallergenic, too!
10. Irish Water Spaniel
The Irish water spaniel breed is a playful, adventure-loving breed with coats that naturally repel dander.
11. Bichon Frise
If you’re an allergy sufferer with more severe symptoms, look no further than the bichon frise breed of dog. These cuddly, fluffy, and shed-less dogs are the perfect choice for anyone.
12. Mini Schnauzer
Mini schnauzers are the perfect small, hypoallergenic dogs for dog parents that love to play with their pups.
13. Goldendoodles (Sometimes)
Many people assume and advertise goldendoodles as hypoallergenic dogs. However, this breed is a little more complicated than others.
Some goldendoodles may be hypoallergenic, while others may not be. In addition, there are varying levels of hypoallergenic qualities in each goldendoodle.
Why? The key lies in the doodle's history. Golden retrievers are known for their thick, shedding coat, while poodles are known for their single coat that doesn’t shed. Depending on the exact genetic pool of each dog, they may be more or less hypoallergenic.
This doesn’t mean you can’t get a goldendoodle if you have dog allergies. Simply monitor your symptoms early on to determine whether they’re the right breed for you.
So, You’re Allergic to Dogs: What To Do
If you are allergic to dogs, don’t panic. An allergy doesn’t mean you need to find a new home for your furry BFF or swear off petting dogs ever again.
There are three main ways to address a dog allergy if you want to continue keeping your dog in your home.
Consider Treatment Options
First, consider potential treatment options. Allergy shots and allergy medications may be able to help you manage your dog allergies. Be sure to talk to your doctor about your options and whether treatment is right for you.
It’s important to note that allergy treatments are typically long-term and need repeating. Some allergy shots can be performed every few weeks, while you will likely need to take medication more often such as every day.
Consider Management Options
If you have milder allergies, you may not need to seek treatment or get rid of your furry best friend. Instead, consider the following tips for managing a dog allergy while keeping your pup in your family.
Don’t let your dog on the furniture. Pet hair and dander can cling to furniture, staying even after you vacuum or wash their covers. Not allowing your dog on the couch, for example, can be an excellent way to manage your dog allergy.
Don’t let your dog in your bedroom. To keep allergens out of your bedroom, keep your dog out of your bedroom, too. It’s essential to keep your bedroom allergy-free. If your dog usually shares a bed with you, ask another family member if they don’t mind sharing the bed with your pup, or put a doggy bed next to your bed if they need to be close to you.
Steam clean your carpets often. Dust, dander, dog shedding, and allergens can collect deep in your carpet — deep enough that even your vacuum can’t remove it all. Be sure to steam clean your carpets if you notice increased symptoms or if it’s been a few weeks since the last deep clean.
Consider introducing an air purifier or allergen-reducing filters into your home. Purified air can help prevent the spread of allergens through your home.
Bathe your dog frequently. Bathing your dog will help keep your dog clean and reduce dander build-up on their fur.
Taking Care of Your Small Dog Breed
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