Do you have allergies to dog dander? If so, you’re not alone. The American College of Allergy, Asthma, and Immunology estimates that as much as 10% of Americans are allergic to dogs. If you are allergic to dogs and you love them, this can present a problem, but not one that’s insurmountable. The first step is to arm yourself with the facts. Here are a few things you should know.
What Causes A Dog To Shed?
It’s normal for dogs to shed. Even though the idea of a “hypoallergenic” dog is popular, no dog is truly, completely hypoallergenic. They all shed to some extent. But if you’re allergic to dogs, don’t give up your quest to find a dog you can live with just yet. Some dogs shed much less than other dogs. And some dogs shed so little then it’s hardly noticeable.
Dogs shed in response to the amount of daylight. The change in seasons affects their hormones and tells them when it’s time to get ready for winter (grow more coat); and when it’s time for spring (shed, grow new coat). Things like the temperature, the dog’s individual health, genetics, and diet also affect shedding. It’s not unusual for an intact female dog to shed after going through a heat cycle even when she hasn’t been bred.
Dogs may also shed after a stressful event such as surgery, an illness, giving birth, trauma or accident, or even traveling in some cases.
Myths Regarding Shedding
There are a lot of myths about shedding in dogs.
Myth: Dogs with longer hair shed more. This is false. The length of the coat has nothing to do with how much or how often the dog sheds. A shorthaired dog can shed just as much as a longhaired dog. It may be more noticeable when a longhaired dog sheds but some shorthaired dogs such as Beagles and Pugs seem to shed all the time.
Myth: People are allergic to dog hair. Not exactly. If you’re allergic to dogs, you are usually allergic to dog saliva, urine, and dander. Dander is the tiny bits of dead skin that flake off the dog’s body. Dander is so small that it can be airborne and inhaled by humans. All dogs produce dander because they have to shed dead skin. (We all do.) Dogs that are known for being “hypoallergenic” don’t spread much dander around.
Myth: Low-shedding dogs are also low maintenance. Mostly false. Many of the dogs that don’t shed or don’t shed much do require some special grooming. If you get one of these dogs, plan on visits to the groomer.