Monday, April 13, 2009

What is the Ideal Breed of Dog if You or a Loved One has Allergies?

Today's entry is inspired by the Obama's decision to allow their daughters to have a dog. The Obamas selected a Portuguese water dog, which was a gift from Senator Edward Kennedy. The Obamas decision was complicated by the fact that both of his daughters have allergies. The $64,000 question is "is there a breed of dog that is less likely to cause allergies?" Short answer: no. There is no proof in the scientific or medical literature that any one breed of dog is less allergenic than any other.

All mammals shed skin cells. Dogs are mammals, so dogs shed skin cells also, called dander. (Trivia: Humans shed skin cells also, but we give a special name, not dander, rather "dander-uff" or dandruff. Yep, that stuff we all battle coming especially from our scalps.) Let's discuss some factors. Some breeds shed more dander than others, that is their skin cells grow and are lost faster. There's the surface area issue: the more skin there is, the more dander can be shed, and vice versa. Dogs don't really lick their fur much, so their saliva is not of a factor, unlike cats. Where is the dander ends up is really the issue. When the dog is indoors, then the dander will be shed indoors. That's why allergists recommend the pets be kept outside. The further away from the sleeping space, the better. In otherwords, do not allow the pet in the bedroom and specifically pets should not be used as pillows. One other step will help, just like it does in humans. Frequent bathing with specific brushing of the fur when done outside and not by the person with allergies will reduce the amount of dander that is available to be shed indoors.

If you have questions about allergies, ask your doctor...

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