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Allergies 101: The Myth Around Hypoallergenic Pets

January 11, 2023
by Regan Pyle, DO

allergies go beyond the fur

Despite what you might have heard, there is no such thing as a “hypoallergenic” dog or cat. Hypoallergenic is commonly associated with animals with no hair, who do not shed, or are short-haired animals. However, allergies go beyond the fur on your pet. It is a myth that pet allergies are caused by animal hair. It is actually a protein found in your pet’s skin (dander), saliva and urine.

Some dogs and cats may cause less symptoms than others, but no cat or dog is without the potential to cause allergies. Cats, dogs, horses, hamsters, guinea pigs, mice/rats are all animals that have the potential to cause allergies.

Steps You should Take before Getting a Pet

Having a pet in the family can be a wonderful addition. But if you have noticed allergy or asthma symptoms around your furry companion, it is important to understand more about those symptoms and how to treat them. Just because you have symptoms around dogs and cats doesn’t mean that you cannot have a life without them! 

African American boy petting a cat
Ten to twenty percent of people around the world are allergic to cats and dogs, which are the most common pets in the United States; the American Academy of Allergy, Asthma, and Immunology estimates 161 million cats and dogs live in about 62% of all American homes.

How do I know if I’m allergic to my pet?

If you own a furred or feathered animal and have the symptoms outlined above, there is a good chance you are allergic to your pet. One of our specialists can confirm this after evaluating your symptoms, performing a physical exam, and completing an allergy test.   

How to Reduce Pet Allergy Symptoms

Here’s a list of things you can do in your home to reduce your symptoms if you are suffering from pet allergies:

  • Keep pets off furniture, or if they do go on furniture cover the furniture and wash the cover on a regular basis in hot water.
  • Keep pets out of bedroom and off of the bed.
  • Use a HEPA filter to reduce dander in the air.
  • Clean carpet frequently or replace carpet with wood, tile or linoleum.

Do pet allergies go away?

As we age, we tend to lose our allergy sensitizations once in our 50s and beyond. Additionally, it is possible that some people with pet allergies, because they are constantly exposed to their pet, can become desensitized and no longer exhibit allergy symptoms when around the animal.

WHEN TO SEE A DOCTOR

There are many advanced ways to treat allergies to pets. One of our specialists is the best person to talk to regarding diagnosis and therapy options. You can contact us directly or ask to be put in touch with one of our board-certified allergists who specializes in allergy testing and treatment. 


Medically Reviewed By: Regan Pyle, DO
Reviewed on: Dec. 21, 2022

Our team of writers, editors, and medical experts goes over each article carefully to make sure the information is correct and that only reliable sources are used.

We regularly check to see if the info in this article matches up with the latest scientific research and expert advice so that we can give you the most up-to-date information. See list of trusted resources here.

Don't Let Allergies Hold You Back

During your first appointment, we’ll talk about your symptoms, how long you’ve been having them and about testing options. These will help us help find triggers and develop a treatment plan unique to you.

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