Thursday, August 15, 2013

Hypoallergenic Dog- Truth or Fiction?

I love dogs and so do many New Yorkers.  About 72.2 million households have dogs in the USA.  And in NYC,  there are about 600,00 dogs according to a survey by the American Veterinary Association & American Community Association. The medical benefit of animals in the home is strong. Dogs provide companionship, stress reduction and bring a lot of love into the home. 

Sadly, about 20% of the population are allergic to dogs.  These symptoms can lead to allergies, asthma and disputes within the family.  Most animals have the same "rights" as others in the home and being allergic to a pet can be the source of family stress. Uncontrolled allergies and asthma can lead to poor school/work performance, overall reduction in quality of life and even emergency department visits.
Common dogs marketed as hypoallergenic are  poodle, labradoodle, Spanish waterdog, and the Airedale terrier. Recently I've had several patients develop allergies after getting a "hypoallergenic" dog.  They are a bit dumbfounded  as they were told that these dogs couldn't cause allergies.  After welcoming their dog into their family, at a loss for what to do next.  Symptoms are severe and they question even giving up their pet.
I thought it would be worth looking at the data to see if this is truth or fiction.  Luckily, there was a study in Journal of Allergy and Clinical Immunology in 10-2012 that asked the same question.
The protein that causes dog allergy is called Can f1 and it's found in the hair and coat of all dogs. 
The researchers measured the levels of Can f1 in dust samples from the hypoallergenic dogs versus allergic dogs and found the levels to be slightly higher in the hypoallergenic dog dust sample!  Unfortunately, there is no thing as a hypoallergenic dog.  Want to read the study yourself?  http://www.jacionline.org/article/S0091-6749(12)00793-2/fulltext
Don't despair though! If you are having allergies to your dog or other pet, seek out an allergist and they will help develop a plan so you will feel better.  The answer isn't always giving up your pet.  Symptoms can be controlled often with some simple environmental control measures, medications, and allergy shots if needed. 
Want to talk to me about it?  Please feel free to email jcollins@gramercyallergy.com or call the office for an appointment 212-228-2312.  We are located at 205 East 22nd Street, NY NY 10010

It's no wonder that truth is stranger than fiction.  Fiction has to make sense.
- Mark Twain.


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