A blog by spcaLA president, Madeline Bernstein

Jul 18, 2011

Study Suggests No Such Thing as a Hypoallergenic Dog

There is no such thing as a hypoallergenic dog. Yet millions of allergy sufferers search for this magical fix.  Even President Obama claimed has could not adopt a shelter dog because his daughter needed a hypoallergenic puppy.  Animal experts have been asserting, forever, that while some dogs shed less than others, all dogs have dander and saliva which will impact the susceptible sufferer.

Bo Obama - Google Images
A new study published by the American Journal of Rhinology & Allergy suggests that there may be no difference between allergens present in a hypoallergenic dog or non-hypoallergenic dog.  "Homes with a hypoallergenic dog were no less likely to have detectable levels of dog allergen or to have lower average levels of allergen than homes with a non-hypoallergenic breed", according to Charlotte Nicholas, MPH, of Henry Ford Health System in Detroit, and colleagues. Researchers collected dust samples from the floors of nurseries and analyzed them for the presence of dog allergens. They found no significant difference based on whether the dog was considered to be a hypoallergenic breed or not. Furthermore, "in homes where the dog was allowed in the baby's bedroom, allergen levels tended to be lower with hypoallergenic dogs and in homes where the dog was not allowed in the bedroom, levels tended to be higher with hypoallergenic dogs, although none of the differences reached statistical significance".

This calls to mind another study published in Clinical & Experimental Allergy which suggested that actually exposing infants to pets may actually reduce allergies to pets.

Clinicians were advised to warn patients that they "cannot rely on breeds deemed to be 'hypoallergenic,'" and that "Additional scientific investigation into dog-specific factors and whether hypoallergenic breeds truly exist is warranted."

Additionally, washing the pet often, eliminating carpets, using HEPA air filters, and vacuuming frequently, will also help the allergy sufferer.

So - there is no need to pay huge prices for such "miracle" dogs, patronize puppy mills that breed such dogs, or to believe in baseless representations. There is a need to make sure the allergy sufferer can tolerate a pet and then an enormous need to adopt one from a shelter.