Pets for People with Allergies

For many people suffering with allergies the possibility of owning a pet is very limited, some may have abandoned all hope of having a pet. The worst offenders are usually birds, cats, and dogs. However there are some options an allergy sufferer may want to consider.

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.


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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.


Bichon-Frise- by Wedding Photography by Jon Day.
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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

skinny.jpg by Greencolander.
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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.


Riccio the italian hedgehog by Rubber Slippers In Italy.
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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

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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.


goldfish by protographer23.
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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.

Jeanelle & Spike by Iggy..
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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.

Hermit Crabs

hermit crab on my PB by strollers.
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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.

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User Comments
  1. Neverty Agisti

    On October 1, 2009 at 5:25 am

    Wow, you were so catching the moment when I said about “allergy” probably you read that.

    That photo about insect must be needed a camera in high resolution to get that picture.

  2. ken bultman

    On October 1, 2009 at 5:46 am

    If I never hear about an insect being a possible pet again I’ll be a happy person.

  3. martie

    On October 1, 2009 at 6:44 am

    very few people have allergies to chinchilla’s either. Good write Brenda

  4. DulceCorazon

    On October 1, 2009 at 7:45 am

    I was truly hoping you’d say there’s a hypoallergenic dog out there. My nephew and niece have asthma and they can’t have pets. Maybe a fish would do. Great article.

  5. Lee Ness

    On October 1, 2009 at 8:15 am

    How true would that be cool hypoallergenic dog or cat.
    With all genetic all foods out there you would a scientis would come with this for all us as people
    Lee Ness

  6. Darla Beck

    On October 1, 2009 at 8:19 am

    Very informative article. Thanks for sharing.

  7. raman13

    On October 1, 2009 at 8:37 am

    Great Work


    Best Regards

  8. CaSundara

    On October 1, 2009 at 9:04 am

    Great article, but I have to tell you about my experience with cats and allergic reactions. I have a British Shorthair that I’m quite allergic to (I can’t put my face too close to her fur or touch my eyes after stroking her – she also make me sneeze), and a Ragdoll, that I’m not allergic to at all. Ragdolls are long-haired so I don’t know why this is but assume it’s a similar idea to the protein difference you mentioned. It’s very interesting, though. Anyway, you might want to add the Ragdoll to your cat list, since this is something I’ve read about several times elsewhere, so it must be the case for many people (and they’re also so much cuter than the sphinx!). I’ll blog this later.

  9. Brenda Nelson

    On October 1, 2009 at 9:59 am

    The Ragdoll being a lighter color might have fewer allergens because of that.. not sure.. thanks CaSundara

  10. Sourav

    On October 1, 2009 at 3:35 pm

    Good article… rightly said!

  11. martinpm

    On October 2, 2009 at 2:01 am

    great article. thanks for sharing. got to know more about my pets.

  12. PR Mace

    On October 3, 2009 at 6:47 pm

    See there really is a pet for everyone. You have just pointed that out. Well done interesting article. I don’t think I want insects for pets.

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