How to Make Your Dog Less Allergenic

Woman working at laptop with Beagle on lap
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Many allergenic dog owners who are allergic to their pets are reluctant to part ways with their furry best friends, despite the wide array of allergy symptoms that may go along with owning a pet dog. When I inform a patient that they are allergic to their dog, they ask many questions regarding ways to reduce dog allergen exposure while still maintaining ownership of the dog. In particular, patients want to know about specific breeds of dogs that might be better to own, if getting rid of indoor carpeting would help, if keeping the dog outdoors is better, or even if having the dog spayed or neutered would reduce allergy symptoms.

What Affects the Amount of Dog Allergen in a Home

A study published in September 2010 sought to determine the characteristics of dogs that affect the amount of dog allergen within the home. The level of major dog allergen, called Can f 1, was measured in bedrooms of various homes, 25% of which had one or more dogs present inside or outside the home. Even for the homes where there was no dog present (indoor or outdoor), 50% still had measurable ​Can f 1 in the bedroom. Nearly all (greater than 90%) of the homes where dogs lived had measurable ​Can f 1 in the bedroom.

The location where the dog was kept did influence the amount of Can f 1 found in the bedroom. Specifically, keeping the dog exclusively outdoors lowered the amount of Can f 1 found, but these levels were still higher than in homes that did not own a dog. If the dog was allowed indoors, keeping the dog localized to one part of the home, such as the kitchen, reduced the amount of Can f 1 compared to if the dog had the run of the house.

The type of flooring inside the home also affected the amount of Can f 1 detected. There was no significant difference between the amount of Can f 1 found in homes with carpeting compared to hardwood floors, and there was no difference between various styles of carpeting, such as plush pile compared to Berber.

Surprisingly, the amount that the dogs shed, the type of coat that the dog had (single versus double coat; short versus long; thick versus wire), had no effect on the amount of Can f 1 found. This seems to be contrary to the common practice of choosing a hypoallergenic dog for people with allergies. Lastly, having the dog spayed or neutered actually resulted in finding higher amounts of Can f 1 compared to if the dog was unaltered, which seems to be the exact opposite of what is known about making cats hypoallergenic.

Read more about some of the measures you can take when you’re allergic to your pet.

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