As many as three in 10 people in the U.S. experience allergic reactions to cats and dogs, and cat allergies are about twice as common as dog allergies, according to the Asthma and Allergy Foundation of America (AAFA). They cause different symptoms – from congestion to hives and eczema.
Animal lovers who happen to have allergies can look for hypoallergenic pets. Hypo means less, not none. In fact, studies have suggested that hypoallergenic dogs can cause as many symptoms as other dogs. While there is no scientific evidence, there is circumstantial. People have reported tolerating pets that don’t shed much, require less grooming, or have shorter hair because they may pick up other allergens such as pollen.
What causes that an allergic reaction is not necessarily the hair – it’s the saliva proteins that stay on the coat during grooming. Another factor to consider is the size of the pet. The bigger the dog or cat, the more likely it is for them to produce many allergens like urine, saliva and dander.
Dog and cat owners can take certain steps to reduce pet allergens such as bathing and grooming outside, keeping them off carpets to reduce dander (dead skin flakes) exposure, and cleaning the house frequently. Some sprays can also be helpful.