Let us run through some common notions regarding human allergies to dogs and cats and discuss which of them are proven false, and which of them are true.
1) Hypoallergenic dogs and cats are guaranteed allergy-free
False. Any animal that has fur can trigger an allergic reaction. If you own dogs or cats, you have a greater risk of developing pet allergies. In reality, all breeds of dogs and cats are allergenic because all shed dander, have sebaceous glands, and lick themselves clean with their saliva. However, there are some proofs that less allergenic pets do exist.
2) Short-haired dogs and cats cause fewer allergies.
False. All breeds of dogs and cats, whether they have short, long, curly, or no hair, are expected to be allergenic. As mentioned earlier, all animals with fur can cause allergies. However, the allergies are not caused by the fur, but by the dander (the tiny scales of dead skin) and by sebaceous and salivary gland secretions that collects on the animal’s fur and skin.
3) Dogs and cats that shed hair the least are not as allergenic.
False. Whether they shed a significant amount of hair or not does not make a difference. Dog breeds such as Poodles, Bichon Frises, Bedlington Terriers and Kerry Blue Terriers, and cat breeds such as Cornish Rex, Devon Rex and Sphynx are sold to buyers as hypoallergenic breeds because they shed little or no hair at all.
4) Puppies and kittens do not cause allergies.
True. Puppies and kittens have no dander to shed because they have no old skin. But eventually, they will produce allergens after a few months as they mature. When people buy young dogs and cats, they will not notice any allergic reactions, until after a few months. This explains why allergic symptoms start to appear only once their pets get older, when they start shedding dander.
5) Pets that live outside the house trigger fewer allergy problems.
True. Keeping your pet outside can help reduce the allergens in your home. However, the moment you go outside to play with your pet, holding it or letting it sit on your lap, can set off the allergies. But if you do resort to having your pet stay outside the house, make sure that you give them a cozy shelter to stay in so that they are comfortable whatever the weather may be.
6) The seasons of spring and fall bring more prominent pet allergies.
True. Cases of seasonal or perennial allergic rhinitis shoot up during the spring and fall because these are pollinating seasons. People who are allergic to both their pets and pollens from trees, grasses, and weeds can expect worse symptoms due to both seasonal (pollen) and perennial (dander) allergens.
7) Black cats are more allergenic than cats of other colors.
True. A January 2000 report, researchers studied 60 cat owners in a hospital in Brooklyn, New York, who all had symptoms of allergies. Those with moderate symptoms were most likely to own dark-colored cats and those with only mild symptoms owned cats that were of a different color, and the odds were 6 times higher with a dark cat.
MYTH OR REALITY?
Contrary to popular belief, there are no 100% hypoallergenic dogs or cats. Avoidance is the best remedy. For pet lovers, think twice about purchasing one of those so-called allergy-free pets that are also quite expensive. Be sure to seek advice from an allergist to help in making a decision to own, or not to own a pet.