Pets of any kind are always a wonderful, welcome part of any family. When you, your partner, or your kids have allergies, though, the idea of a pet can feel like a non-starter. What kind of pets can you get when everything you touch makes your throat close up? As it turns out, a lot of different types. Can you get a puppy without throwing your back out from sneezing dozens of times each day? Yup. You just have to know what you’re looking for when you’re ready for a pet, and, spoiler alert, what you’re looking for are hypoallergenic pets.
Here’s the thing: The most hypoallergenic pets you can get are going to be the least cuddly. According to Bissel, the real culprit with pet allergies isn’t the actual fur but the pet dander, which any warm-blooded animal produces. So, having a coat that dander can cling to makes a pet more likely to send your allergies into overdrive. And, unfortunately, even a hairless cat or dog could cause issues if you’re especially sensitive to pet dander. If you’re already picturing the despondent look on your kid’s face when you tell them a pet is out of the question (cue, “But, Daaaaad!”), pump the brakes — there are plenty of warm-blooded pets that are less likely to make your allergies flare. There are also a ton of badass cold-blooded animals worth considering, too.
In all circumstances, it’s always best to try to spend some time with the specific animal you’re considering to test the waters. After all, every family is different, and everyone’s allergies react differently. But this list of hypoallergenic pets should give you a good jumping-off point for your pet research.
Cold Blooded Hypoallergenic Pets
Tiny? Sure. Boring? Sometimes. But they won’t make your eyes water or your throat itch. Sooo… *insert shrug emoji here*
Turtles come in a ton of different sizes and shapes and, depending on their breeds, need different kinds of homes. Did we mention you get to live out your childhood dreams of having a Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtle as a pet?
Even if you’re on the fence about getting a lizard, we implore you to check out pictures of bearded dragons wearing hats. Seriously, just do it.
Geckos are great options because they’re pretty laid-back animals. In full disclosure, however, they do require a ton of setup. (See: Aquarium, heat lamp, special sand, etc.) The good news is they’re easy to care for once you get going.
Just like turtles, frogs come in a ton of options. If your kid’s favorite color is purple, maybe you can track down a Purple Pig-Nosed Frog for their aquarium. Just keep in mind that frogs often aren’t great to handle.
Remember when everyone had an iguana? That’s because they’re really flippin’ cool, man. If this lizard lands on your shortlist, just keep in mind that they have strict feeding and housing requirements, can grow to be rather strong and large (and aggressive, if not handled regularly), and live a long time.
Warm-Blooded Pets That Might Be Hypoallergenic
As we previously mentioned, if an animal is warm-blooded, it will release at least some dander. If you have severe enough allergies, you’ll be affected no matter what. However, many people believe these warm-blooded pets are less likely to cause issues for allergy sufferers.
Haven’t we all wanted a ferret at some point or another? Sure, some people think they’re creepy (the words “furry snake” come to mind). But since they don’t shed dander quite the same as many other domestic animals, many pet owners find these creatures less irritating to allergies.
Things like rats, mice, gerbils, and hamsters (particularly the Syrian variety) still have dander. However, because of their size, it’s much less noticeable. And since all of these critters tend to live in small enclosures, it’s less likely that they’ll leave their dander all over your home. They’re not fool-proof, but it’s highly unlikely that the average allergy sufferer will be uncomfortable living with any of these pets.
If you’ve been fighting what feels like a losing battle in your house because you are the only one who doesn’t want a bird, we’ve got your back. Here’s your defense: Birds aren’t great for allergy sufferers. You have to worry about things like their feathers and feces, as well as the usual allergy culprits. If your fam feels stuck on a bird, though, the number one recommendation for a hypoallergenic bird is the simple parakeet, as they molt less and shed very little dander.
OK, But We Want a Dog or Cat
We get it. Dogs and cats hold such a warm, nostalgic appeal to people. Hey, don’t worry; all isn’t lost in the pet department just because you have allergies. There are a few dog and cat breeds that might still work. Once again, though, we highly recommend you find a way to be around these breeds (or even the specific pet you’re considering) ahead of time to see how your allergies react.
Those hairless cats — remember Mr. Bigglesworth from Austin Powers? — might seem like the best option. Most of the time, we know that it’s not the fur that bothers us but the dander, right? There’s no fur for the dander to cling to with a hairless cat, making them easier on some allergy sufferers. Other cat breeds (with fur) that many people swear are nearly hypoallergenic are: Balinese, Cornish Rex, LaPerm, Russian Blue, or Siberian cats.
While many people remain convinced that most “doodle” breeds are hypoallergenic, you should know that’s not always true. Yes, poodles are an “allergy-friendly” dog breed. But when mixed with breeds like labradors, sheepdogs, or Bernese mountain dogs, it’s the luck of the draw as to just how hypoallergenic the dog will be. If your family is set on a doodle (we get it!), talk to the breeder and spend time with the puppy before you commit. Or better yet, find a doodle-specific rescue, meet those dogs, and skip the whole puppy phase altogether. Other “hypoallergenic” dogs? The Bichon frisé, American hairless terrier, Kerry blue terrier, Irish water spaniel, standard poodle, and more.