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The miracle of the hypoallergenic dog: Separating facts from fantasy

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The search for the “hypoallerg­enic presidential dog” dominated the headlines recently, with the search for a “hypoallerg­enic” dog.

“Many of my patients with allergies would like to have a pet, too,” says Clifford Bassett, MD, an allergy specialist affiliated with Long Island College Hospital of Brooklyn. “Now that the hoopla around the presidential pet has died down, patients want to know what’s real and what’s not.”

The myth: Pet allergies are caused by the animal’s fur or hair.

The truth: The allergy is actually a protein found in pet skin⁄dander, saliva and urine.

Even hairless dogs have at least some allergens. Some dog breeds are said to be “hypoallerg­enic,” as they shed less.

However, no dog breed is completely hypoallergenic. In some cases there are individual differences between breeds, and a particular pet allergy sufferer may do better with one breed as compared to another.

The myth: female dogs produce less allergens.

The truth: only a theory — it has yet to be proved.

What can help reduce dog allergy suffering? Here are some tips from Dr. Bassett:

• Create a pet free bedroom

• Wash bedding in hot water

• Bathe your dog frequently and have a non allergic family member perform grooming

• Use a HEPA air purifier, double bag and⁄or HEPA vacuum cleaner⁄home A⁄C, and as well as vacuuming carpets, cleaning walls

• Shampoo carpeting frequently, or, better yet, go with wood or washable tile⁄linoleum flooring

• Increase time your pet spends outside, weather permitting

• Visit an allergist to discuss treatment options

The myth: people with seasonal allergies are also allergic to pets.

The truth: only 20% of allergy sufferers are truly allergic to pets.

Unfortunately, there are no guarantees that a person with allergies may be able to tolerate living with a dog or cat. “If you can, try having a pet on a temporary or trial basis to see how you’ll react,” concludes Dr. Bassett. “However, an even better strategy for allergy sufferers is to begin allergy treatment before getting a pet, including allergy injections.”

For more on pet allergies go to⁄medianews_releases⁄pressrelease.asp?contentid=8326 or visit Dr. Bassett at−

For a referral to Dr. Bassett or other LICH physicians, call 877−LICH−DOC.

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