The Best Pets To Choose If Your Family Has Allergies

Allergies affect over 50 million people in the U.S. annually, reports the Asthma and Allergy Foundation of America (AAFA). Of all the things that can prompt an allergic reaction such as mold, pollen, and dust mites — pet dander is among the most common. Pet dander can be particularly aggravating for those with allergies because these dead skin cells often remain in the air for longer stretches of time compared to other irritants and can easily become attached to clothing, carpets, and furniture (via American Lung Association).

According to The American Academy of Allergy Asthma and Immunology, over 60% of U.S. households are home to a pet (per American Lung Association). People with pet allergies aren't allergic to the pets themselves, but rather the proteins that lie in their saliva, pee, and skin cells, explains the Mayo Clinic. Fur is the source of dander. Therefore, cats and dogs can be among some of the worst pets for families with allergies. Some breeds may be particularly aggravating, such as German Shepherds who are prone to dry skin, says Everyday Health. Long-haired rabbits can also trigger symptoms (via Allergy & Air), as well as unneutered male cats, as they produce more allergy-provoking proteins than female cats (via Live Science).

Fish, reptiles, and birds can make great pets

To avoid the itching, sneezing, and teary eyes that accompany a pet allergy, the best pets to stick to are those that are fur-free (via American Lung Association). Reptiles and fish are great options. Examples include goldfish and bearded dragons, both of which are known to be people-friendly (via Parents).

Additionally, while some people can be susceptible to bird allergies (via American Academy of Allergy Asthma and Immunology), families may get better results with canaries, finches, or parakeets. Susan A. Brown of the Rosehaven Exotic Animal Veterinary Service explains, telling Parents, " ... their small size will minimize any other possible [allergy] triggers."

While no type of cat or dog can be fully hypoallergenic, if these pets are truly your first love, experts suggest that some breeds may be less aggravating for allergies than others. Everyday Health reports that Bichon Frise and Schnauzers are breeds of dog known to produce less dander. Additionally, a Sphynx, Russian Blue, or Bengal are all breeds of cats thought to produce or spread fewer allergens (via Reader's Digest). However, people with allergies will react differently to different animals; therefore, it may be worth a trial run prior to adopting, such as by visiting a shelter, borrowing a pet for a day, or spending some time in the house of a friend with a similar pet (per Healthline).