Unfortunately for potential pet owners who have allergies, there isn’t such a thing as truly hypoallergenic emotional support animals. If you are allergic to pet dander and you’re looking to befriend a cat, dog or any other animal to help you with an emotional or mental disorder, then you’ll need to take this into account before you adopt or buy.
Depending on how allergic you are, the symptoms of pet allergies can be quite severe. You may suffer from a runny nose, itchy eyes, a rash, shortness of breath and more.
But what causes animal allergies, and why are some people more allergic than others?
It’s all to do with a person’s immune system reacting to the animal’s fur and dander (dried skin flakes, urine and saliva) as if they were intruders. The immune system responds by releasing histamine and other chemicals that cause physical symptoms, such as those mentioned above. It’s not really known why some people are allergic to animals and others aren’t. But it has been suggested that you are likely to have a higher genetic predisposition if one of your parents also has an allergy.
It’s a bit of a catch-22, especially if you want to invite emotional support animals into your home. It seems that any warm-blooded pet with fur, hair or feathers can set off an allergic reaction. But there are certain breeds of animals that, although not always hypoallergenic, can have a lesser effect than others and may be suitable ESA animals for people with allergies.
Cats are considered to be the worst offenders for people with allergies, so in terms of ESA animals, you may want to give them a wide berth. Around two-thirds of pet allergies are caused by cats because they have a certain protein called Fel d 1, which tends to stay airborne for a long time and can stick to clothing and bedding. But some cats have less fur and make less of this protein than others. Let’s look at some that are considered better for allergy sufferers.
Devon Rex Cat
Less fur means less dander, and the Devon Rex cat has hardly any fur, so shedding and licking are kept to a minimum. They may be a bit funny looking, but they make ideal emotional support animals as they have curious, playful personalities and love to be with their owners.
Their short-haired coat and the fact that they produce less Fel d 1 make Russian Blues sought after by ESA owners. They have lovely, affectionate personalities and develop close bonds with their owners.
Even though this breed is also sometimes called longhaired Siamese, the longhaired part the Balinese’s saliva and skin oil contains much less Fel d 1 protein, so the fur is less likely to trigger an allergic reaction. Balinese are one of the most intelligent cat breeds and are social and playful cats that love to “talk” to people — great traits for an emotional support animal.
If you love dogs but are worried a furry friend might set off your allergies, then rest assured that these breeds are much less likely to so.
Although not completely hypoallergenic, Labradoodles are one of the better emotional support animals for people that have an allergy. This is because they shed less fur and produce less dander and saliva. The fun-loving and people-pleasing tendencies of Labradoodles make them a good match for someone that needs an ESA dog.
Schnauzers have short, easy-to-maintain coats and don’t shed much. Regular grooming and keeping their hair very short ensures that ESA allergy sufferers will be well-matched with this playful, energetic pup.
Other Emotional Support Animals
If a cat or a dog is too much to handle for your allergies, a rabbit could make a good ESA animal because it needs looking after but is low maintenance with food and exercise. Because they live in a cage, the fur and dander are more contained.
Like a rabbit, a hamster also makes a suitable ESA pet for anyone with allergies as they are small, able to be petted and cared for without shedding too much fur or dander, and then returned to their cage.
Birds can be OK for people with allergies. Although they do produce dander, some do so more than others. Parakeets and cockatiels are probably the best pets for ESA owners if you regularly keep their cage clean and free of stray feathers. Cockatoos and African gray parrots create the most dander.
If you want to remain totally allergy-free or if your sinuses start running when you so much as look at a furry or feathered animal, then stick with a goldfish. This truly hypoallergenic pet won’t trigger your allergies and is a low maintenance ESA that you may not be able to take for a walk but will always be there for you swimming in its bowl.