Choose a sneeze-free breed for your new pet!
If you have a pet allergy, then a hypoallergenic pet is going to be the best way to go. Since you are here, you are more than likely an allergy sufferer and have probably been told about pet dander more than you care to count.
So, if you have a dog allergy or a cat allergy and you want to avoid a runny nose, asthma symptoms, or allergy shots, then the below list of hypoallergenic pets is going to be one you want to check out.
Pets for People with Allergies
Though poodles have longer hair than other breeds, it’s not the amount of animal hair that causes allergies. It’s the dander it brings. Poodles are a dog breed with tightly-curled hair that retains dander better than other breeds, and they don’t have an undercoat, which means less shedding. Poodles are also known for being one of the most intelligent dogs. Now that’s a smart choice!
2. Devon Rex Cats
Contrary to popular belief, you don’t have to opt for a completely hairless cat if you have mild to moderate allergies. The Devon rex has a short, naturally wavy coat that doesn’t require it to groom itself as often as other breeds. Cats’ saliva is often an allergy trigger, so this breed’s reduced grooming is a plus. While no cat is truly hypoallergenic, many people prone to sneezing and sniffling find they can live with a Devon Rex.
3. Portuguese Water Dogs
Best known for being the dog of choice for the Obama family, the Portuguese Water Dog has minimal shedding, making it an excellent choice for people with allergies. This breed generally loves water and stays active by walking, running, or playing with its family.
This interesting reptile is a great pet for kids who suffer from allergies. Turtles are fun to watch, safe to play with, and relatively low-maintenance. Keep in mind that their tanks require regular cleaning to prevent algae and mold, which can trigger allergies themselves if left unchecked.
Many turtle breeds are great pets, which can make picking one tough. When selecting the best pet turtles for yourself or loved ones, consider the pet’s cost, requirements, and behavior. A bit of research is useful here since turtle breeds can differ significantly.
If you’re comfortable keeping a distance from your pet, consider getting a tortoise. While fun to watch, tortoises are not the most cuddly or indoor pets. Thankfully, allergic reactions to these quiet reptiles are rare. Tortoises are long-term companions, literally! They live incredibly long. So it pays to be intentional about the species you keep. Thankfully, there are many resources on the best pet tortoises available to help you narrow your options.
A classic feline breed for allergy sufferers, the Sphynx has only one fine layer of hair and, therefore, less dander. Many enjoy the Sphynx’s unique look and characteristic “dog-like” behavior, which is typically more social than that of other cats.
Potential owners should know that the Sphynx requires a careful cleaning regimen. Its sensitive skin also needs regular moisturizing.
If you’re up for a more exotic addition to the family, a pet hedgehog may be the perfect hypoallergenic choice! They produce significantly less dander than traditional pets. They are also generally cleaner than animals of similar size, like guinea pigs. However, hedgehogs require some special attention, like weekly cage cleanings. They do best with patient owners who are open-minded to their quirky hedgehog behaviors.
8. Bichon Frise
For those who prefer a small hypoallergenic dog breed, the Bichon Frise is an excellent allergy-friendly option. Like the poodle, this breed’s curly coat produces less dander. Its need for regular grooming also makes it less prone to dirt and excess hair. This breed has a generally happy temperament and prefers to be with its humans, which is great for those looking for a loyal companion.
While fishes aren’t exactly cuddly-cute animals, they can be great first pets for kids, helping teach responsibility while being virtually allergen-free. Plus, with such an array of colors and species available, an aquarium can add a beautiful aesthetic to a home!
Looking for something slightly more challenging than fish? Try frogs. Frogs are allergy-friendly pets that come in several colors. Most have sensitive skin, so you shouldn’t handle them too frequently. While allergic reactions to frogs are rare, some have toxins on their skin to ward off predators. So ensure you research any species before purchasing it.
Though not for the squeamish, snakes make fascinating pets. Their scaly skin means they do not need to groom, eliminating allergens from dander and saliva. Just make sure you’re prepared for live feedings, which most snakes require.
Understandably, seeing “pet” and “snake” in the same sentence may seem dubious. But don’t worry. Many snake species are harmless and friendly. Some of the best pet snakes you’ll find include kingsnakes and ball pythons, but there are many more.
Miniature schnauzers, to be exact! While there’s no scientific evidence that smaller dogs are more hypoallergenic than larger dogs, experts surmise that a smaller body means fewer allergens to go around. Makes sense, right?
13. Leopard Geckos
Lizard allergy is rare, making species like the leopard gecko an excellent pet for many allergy sufferers. These stunning reptiles are relatively low-maintenance. They also eat various foods, especially live insects. If you’re allergic to insects, consider having someone else feed your pet or put on protective clothing before doing so.
14. Bearded Dragons
Bearded dragons lack the allergy-triggering dander on mammals. This makes them significantly hypoallergenic. However, keep in mind that you may still get allergic reactions if you keep bearded dragons. While they scarcely cause reactions themselves, some of their foods can. Grasshoppers, especially, have some allergy-inducing proteins. So take precautions when feeding this lizard.
If you’re allergic to dander but can’t give up hairy pets, try ferrets. While they certainly have dander, they don’t shed as much as other pets. Ferrets also use a litterbox and don’t lick their owners as often as dogs or cats. This minimizes your exposure to allergens in their urine and saliva. Ferrets are open to cuddling, but they prefer being free to play around the house.
Gerbils are not allergen-free, but they are an excellent alternative to dogs and cats. They produce significantly less dander due to their small sizes. Keep these lively rodents in a cage to minimize exposure to their allergens, and you’re good to go.
Hamsters aren’t only for kids. Regardless of your age, these small mammals make great pets. Hamsters live in restricted cages, so their dander is unlikely to spread far enough to fill your home with allergens. They are also excellent alternatives to gerbils for mild allergy sufferers.
Soft and velvety, chinchillas are good pets for adults and children. If you have mild allergies, consider getting a pet chinchilla. These rodents are considered hypoallergenic because they make very little dander compared to conventional pets.
While quiet and nonchaotic, chinchillas don’t enjoy cuddling much. You’ll have more luck cuddling younger chinchillas. With time, they might get used to it.
19. Rex Rabbits
Rex rabbits are cute, fluffy, and love to be around people. While these animals aren’t truly hypoallergenic, allergic people can safely keep them as pets. Their skin and saliva contain allergic proteins, but you can minimize contact with these allergens if you cage your pet rabbit. Rex rabbits allowed to roam freely shed less dander than other domestic animals. However, litter-training these pets is challenging.
It may come as a shock to you, but pigs make great pets for people with allergies. While these animals have hair, it’s not fur. They don’t shed dander much. That’s why many people who struggle with dogs and cats do well with pigs. Be careful, though, as these animals can get quite large. Some reach 500 pounds. Even species touted as “mini” typically grow more than 150 pounds. If you’re comfortable with this, pigs are intelligent animals that’ll quickly warm up to you.
21. Budgies (Parakeets)
Budgies are among the most lively pets you can keep. These parrots are smart, funny, and make good human companions. Budgies are excellent pets for allergy sufferers, but it’s not because they don’t produce dander. They do, but only in minute amounts because of their small sizes. Also, these animals are often confined anyway, so the dander scarcely spreads.
Macaws are energetic, playful birds with a high level of intelligence. These parrots can learn to speak several human words. So if you’re looking for a pet to have conversations with, consider getting one. Like budgies, macaws are excellent companions for people with allergies. They shed minimal dander. So you’re unlikely to have reactions if you keep their cage clean.
Large-beaked and stunningly beautiful, toucans are one of the best pets for people with allergies. These colorful birds have minimal dander. While naturally curious, they don’t dust up the house with allergens. Toucans are intelligent, friendly birds. They often get attached to humans, which means you can play with them for hours.
Many adults with severe allergies turn towards less conventional pets like iguanas for companionship. That’s because these exotic reptiles have fewer allergens on their skins. But bear in mind that caring for iguanas requires considerable commitment. Iguanas need careful dietary planning and large enclosures, which you have to clean regularly. While they aren’t cuddly, watching these fascinating reptiles can be entertaining.
That wraps up our list of the best indoor pets for allergy sufferers. While the list contains a lot of great alternative pets for allergy sufferers, there is sadly, no pet that is 100% non allergenic. That’s because allergy triggers differ from person to person, so every pet has the potential to cause a reaction.
Still, these allergy-friendly pets are sure to fill that gap of love that you want to give to a pet. Hopefully, you’ll find the right pet for you on this list.
The best way to know if you’ll do well with a pet is to spend some time with it before adopting. You can do so at a pet store or animal shelter. Remember that allergic reactions can take hours to manifest, so don’t rush this stage.
Talk with your doctor or allergist about your options, and don’t be afraid to take your time deciding which allergy-friendly pet is best for you.
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Editor’s note: This post was originally published on December 10, 2014.