The best dogs for kids with allergies are those which will not produce a large amount of pet dander or those which will not carry a lot of allergens in their hair or fur. Contrary to what some people think, even hairless dog breeds may not be a good option for allergic people because even their skin will produce dander which is the main cause of the allergy.
But if you tend to prefer a particular breed of dog which is not normally considered to be hypoallergenic, take heart that there are still ways in which you can keep them without having to suffer a serious attack.
Allergies are not that easy to handle but the thought of having to give up a pet or give up any hope of getting a pet can be just as difficult especially for kids. We all know that having a pet dog around can mean a lot of fun and joy and they also make companions and guardians as well.
Not only that, dogs help boost the immune system and help us relax which help prevent health problems which are related with stress and anxiety. These reasons alone can be sufficient for anyone to get a dog but if you have an allergy, then you definitely have to think twice about it.
What Triggers Allergic Reactions to Dogs?
Not everyone has an allergy to dogs and this is why some just don’t understand how a simple lick from a dog can produce welts in a person. In the US, about 10 to 15% suffer from allergies to dogs and this translates to several millions of people who experience such welts. So what does a dog have that triggers this type of reaction?
A protein which is known as Canis Familiaris 1 or Can F1. This protein is naturally secreted by dogs in their sebaceous glands, urine, feces, and saliva and is a non-harmful substance at all. Flakes of this protein form as these dry up and get blown away by wind. When this protein comes into contact with human skin or is inhaled by an allergic person, it causes the body to react to it as if it is a dangerous foreign material hence the allergic reaction.
But aside from this, there can also be another cause to why a child can be allergic to dogs: their ability to trap allergenic materials on their hair or fur. Sometimes you may see that your child develops symptoms just because they played with your dog at the yard but this does not automatically mean that they are allergic to dogs.
Actually, they may just be allergic to what is on their fur which they are able to inhale or come into contact with. Allergens such as dust, ragweed, pollens, molds, and mildew can be the one causing the reaction and not Can F1. To determine whether this is the case or not, you will have to get your child to do a skin prick test.
So why are only a certain percentage of people allergic to it while others are not? The answer to this question is not quite clear although there are theories that it can be inherited, caused by a poorly functioning immune system, or it can be due to a particular virus called the respiratory syncytial virus to which the body may not have been able to develop an immunity to.
Allergic reactions are also not that easy to handle since its symptoms can range from a simple sneezing and coughing to a life-threatening condition called an anaphylaxis where the airways become swollen minimizing air intake. Choosing between owning a dog and having a happy wagging pet to come home to or not having them but also not having to suffer from allergic reactions can definitely be a tough choice.
What Types of Dogs Are Good for Allergic Kids?
When looking for a pet dog for a kid it is important to take the dog’s physical traits and their temperament in order to arrive at a good choice. You want one that has the patience for children and one which will not pose some serious threat or risk to the child’s safety. In general, female and smaller breeds of dogs are preferable for allergic kids as they produce less dander than the larger ones.
But, you also need to take into consideration that some small dogs tend to get yappy which also means that there will be more saliva in the air and more chances for allergic reactions. Here is a list of dogs which are considered ideal for allergic children:
How Can You Lessen the Risk of Allergens if You Choose to Keep a Dog?
Since there is no dog which is completely allergen-free, you have to employ ways with which you can keep the allergens at their minimum amount on your pets. This way, the chances of getting allergic reactions will be reduced to a minimum and your child’s immune system may also be able to handle it as well. Since allergens are either carried by your dog in their body (dander) or on their coats (dust, molds, mildew, pollens) the main idea is to keep them as clean as possible.
The next step would be to keep their health at optimum so there is lesser shedding of coats and of dander as well.
The first and most important step, in keeping your dog “hypoallergenic” is to bath them at least weekly. This is to wash away the dead skin flakes (dander) that they shed throughout the week and to help eliminate a large number of it from flying all over your house.
By washing them over with water, the dander will go down the drain instead of being blown by the wind as they come off your pet’s skin. You have to be careful though that you only use dog shampoos which do not dry up their skin or it could turn out worse. Bathing your dog will also effectively get rid of any allergens which may have gotten on your dog’s hair or fur.
Next, you would have to provide them with a healthy and balanced diet that will provide for a healthy coat and body. Dogs need essential fatty acids to help maintain a strong and shiny coat that will be resistant to shedding. They also need it to maintain the integrity and suppleness of their skin.
A diet which is high in grains and carbohydrates can contribute to a poor and dull coat and an allergic dog as well. If your dog is allergic, chances are they will be producing more dander and shedding a lot of fur. A good source of essential fatty acids is olive oil and fish oils. Make sure to give your dog a sufficient of high quality protein as well as it provides integrity to their skin.
Aside from this, you also need to implement cleanliness in your home as well. This means installing screens and using air filters as necessary. Wash your bedding and your dog’s as well with hot water in order to eliminate allergenic proteins that may have been transferred to them.
Try to get rid of carpets, wall hangings, and rugs that can trap dust and pet dander. Keep your dog away from your bed and the children’s bed to prevent an overload of allergens in these areas where people spend time the most. Lastly, instruct family members to wash their hands or take a shower right after handling the dog.
Having an allergic kid at home does not automatically mean that you can’t have a pet dog around. There are certain breeds which are ideal for these types of children due to their lesser dander and shedding which is one of the main causes of allergy.
With the proper maintenance around the house and regular grooming of your dog, you can easily provide your child with a good pet and companion that they can cherish despite their condition. As studies have also shown, allowing children to own pets can have a positive impact on their health especially when done during the early stages of childhood.
You can choose from a wide range of dogs when looking for a pet that will suit an allergic child. There are long-haired and fluffy ones and there are hairless ones as well so whichever you think is appropriate, there will always be an option for you. But, choosing to care for a dog also means a lot of responsibility not only in terms of physical needs but of emotional needs as well.
Dogs form an attachment with their owners and deciding to put them away can be a very stressful event for them. So before you decide to own one knowing that you have an allergic child, make sure that you can dedicate yourself to caring for them.