Researchers estimate that allergies affect approximately 50 million Americans and evidence suggests that allergies are on the rise. With so many of us being affected, there’s a huge demand for pets and emotional support animals that don’t trigger their allergies.
While everyone’s allergies are individual, the most common allergen for people who own emotional support animals is not the actual fur, but rather the the dander, which are skin flakes so small they’re almost invisible when they shed from the animal. The proteins in the dander can be sticky, meaning you could end up carrying them around with you, even when you leave your animal behind.
If your allergies as so severe that you need a fully guaranteed hypoallergenic animal, you’ll have to opt for a fish or reptile as any warm-blooded animal with fur or feather may potentially trigger an allergy. However, there are some furry animals which are more suitable for allergy sufferers than others.
Portuguese Water Dogs
Portuguese Water Dogs don’t shed a lot, making them a good option for anyone who wants an emotional support dog. However, their coats will need a lot of work and they should be brushed every second day to ensure their skin and coat remain in good condition, and their hair will need to be trimmed approximately every two months.
They have a great reputation as a working dog and in the past this breed has been trained to herd fish and retrieve lost nets, so training them as emotional support animals shouldn’t be such a tough job. Their temperament is affectionate and independent and they will usually stay in close proximity to their owners. You’ll be in good company too. While in the White House, President Obama adopted Bo, a Portuguese Water Dog, as his daughter Malia also suffers from allergies.
As pigs have hair, instead of fur, and a skin that is quite similar to humans, they’re highly unlikely to trigger your allergies. Pigs make great emotional support animals because they’re smart and highly trainable. They’re also never boring; they’ll continually find new ways to entertain themselves and if they’re in need of attention, they’ll try anything to get it!
Whether you go for an adorable miniature pig or a fabulously full-bellied pig, they’re amazingly social and will love nothing more than to roll over to get their tummy rubbed. They can even be trained to walk on a leash, which is perfect for helping you while out and about.
If you desperately want a fluffy cat without having to deal with the allergies, a Balinese cat might be for you. Despite its long, silky fur, it actually creates a lot less dander than many of its fluffy feline counterparts, because of the low amount of protein allergens they have. They are one of the most sociable and affectionate breed of cats, with a reputation for high intelligence and a desire to spend a lot of time with their owner. With these positive traits come a warning, however; they like to meow quite a lot, though it’s not usually at a very high volume so it shouldn’t disturb you too much.
If you have your heart set on a cat for your ESA animal, choosing the gender and color could play a part in tackling your allergies. Often, light-haired and female cats produce less dander than their dark-haired or male counterparts. If you do have a male cat, getting him neutered will also help with your allergies.
Small furry animals like gerbils, guinea pigs or hamsters can make a good alternative for people with allergies as a emotional support animals. Although they are furry creatures, they’ll generally be in cages while they’re in the home, meaning you can reduce the amount of exposure you get to allergens.
Small animals like this are becoming more popular as companions because they are ‘pocket pets’, i.e. pets that can be carried around easily in your pocket, so it’s easy to bring them to class or to work with you.
A cold-blooded lizard may not be the first thing that pops to mind when you think of an emotional support animal, but they’re becoming an increasingly popular choice for people with anxiety issues to their stable and calm nature; it’s practically unheard of for tame reptiles to become aggressive. Best of all, they’re one of the few pets that are actually hypoallergenic due to their lack of fur and dander.
Once their habitat is set up, they’re inexpensive to keep and are silent and clean animals. With proper upkeep and care, they can also live longer than both dogs and cats, meaning you won’t need to worry about getting a replacement ESA animal for some time. They’re also highly portable and require a smaller amount of living space than more traditional pets.
If you’re unsure about which animal will suit your allergies, try and book some time with an animal before you commit to it and see how you react. One thing is for sure, you will find the perfect emotional support animal for you, no matter what your circumstance.