While no pet can be considered 100% hypoallergenic some certainly are less problematic than others. The allergens themselves are often in the animals fur, dander, and saliva, however in some cases the bedding may be a concern. Here are a few pets that may have fewer problems.
photo by Mark Gordon Brown
Generally unless a person is stung or bitten, insects are pretty much allergy free. Surprisingly enough many are available as pets. Most often these include stick insects, mantids, butterflies, giant cockroaches, and various beetles and millipedes. Some of these insects eat only vegetation so can often be fed leaves from your garden (as long as no chemicals are used in your yard) and romaine lettuce, so are fairly cheap to keep as pets. Insects should be purchased properly, it is often illegal to catch and keep any wild animal, even insects.
There are a few choices for an owner who wishes to have a cat as a pet. The first is a breed known as the Sphynx. This is a virtually hairless cat. There are also the Cornish Rex, the Devon Rex and a cat called LaPerm. It has also been determined that lighter colored cats, particularly females and those with shorter hair, are less likely to cause allergies. A cat on a good cat food, one with a good meat source and no corn (or other filler) will have less dander as a result of the better diet.
Although many breeds of dog are marketed as hypoallergenic, none truly are. Some people may be allergic to one dog, but fine with another. The closest to being hypoallergenic are the non-shedding breeds. These are Poodles, Shih Tzu,and Bichon Frise, among others. Again a good diet, one with very little filler, will help a dog to be less of a problem. Regular grooming helps too, as these dogs usually need frequent hair cuts. If a person has allergies they should ask their groomer not to use any perfumes on their dog. It is a good practice to wash after being licked by a dog, and take care not to touch your eyes or face when playing with the dog. There are also hairless dogs.
Hairless Small Animals
Hairless Guinea Pigs are the answer for people who want a small pet, these are best known as Skinny Pigs. Another hairless critter is the rat. The main differences between the two are that rats are more intelligent and need more time out of their cage (although this is not to say Guinea Pigs should be left in their cage for long periods of time), and rats have a far shorter lifespan.
As hedgehogs have hair that is different than fur they have fewer allergy causing sources. They have less, or no, dander. The main source of their allergens lies in their saliva, so washing afterwards is always a good idea. Their bedding may pose a problem and tiny particles would be on their spines which would rub on a handlers hands when they are held.
Bashkir Curly Horses
This unusual breed of horse is said to be allergy free. Their hair is curly or wavy and lacks a protein found in the hair of other equines. The main problem for owners might be allergies to their horses hay (feed) or straw (bedding). There are no other breeds of horse known for being easy on allergy sufferers.
Pet fish cannot form the same bonds as our cats, dogs, or even rats, but many people get pleasure out of watching fish swim peacefully in a tank. Certain species of fish have longer lifespans, such as some Goldfish, and their owners do form special attachments. Fish should not be discounted for people with allergies.
Lizards, Snakes, Frogs, etc.
Not everyone sees the point of keeping these animals as pets, however for allergy sufferers they may be the ideal pet. Many can be handled but some prefer to be left alone. The biggest problem is that many people fail to note that these animals have rather specific habitat needs, climate control, etc.. Also people sometimes do not consider the size these pets will attain and fail to provide a large enough tank.
These smaller pets often appeal to children with allergies. Care must be given to keeping their tank at a proper humidity level and make sure that a variety of empty shells exist so the pets can select one most comfortable for them. Some places offer shells that have been painted on to add interest for the owner.
See Your Doctor
There are allergy medications available for people who wish to deal with their allergies head on. This ranges from pills to injections. Advancements are always being made with more effective treatments available from your doctor all the time. If you want to keep even the most allergy causing pet, speak to your doctor about possible treatments and medications first.