Grooming and Allergies

DOG Digest

Excerpt from Happy Dog: How Busy People Care for Their Dogs

It’s a Fur Thing
Everyone appreciates a nice head of hair, but keeping it looking great is sometimes more work than one can handle. You can imagine how much work grooming would be if your entire body were covered with hair and you tended to drag it around on the ground wherever you went. The fact is that some breeds have quite elaborate grooming requirements while others are more the wash-and-go variety.

Now, if you have your heart set on an Afghan hound, there are grooming cuts that make the fur easier to manage, but the dog might not look like the breed you fell in love with. Just expect that if you want that long, flowing mane, it’s going to take work and the skills of a professional dog groomer. You’ll need to factor in time and money for breeds with hairy needs. Just as long as you’re realistic, you’ll both be happy.

Okay, I Can Handle the Grooming as Long as They Don’t Shed!
Unless you are selecting a bald breed, expect that most dogs are going to shed, at least some. After all, you shed, so why shouldn’t your canine companion? If you are concerned about unsightly collections of fur around your living area, you might want to take our advice on breed selection, brush regularly to remove fur, and limit exposure to pieces of furniture that are beyond compromise. Drape a cotton sheet over your furniture to keep fur adherence to a minimum, but also keep sticky tape and a lint brush handy if you or your guests are sensitive to misplaced fur.

Help! I’m Sensitive
No dogs are entirely nonallergenic, but it is possible to own a dog even if you have a documented sensitivity. The most important factor is to select a breed that is considered less allergenic than others. Test your reaction before bringing the dog home. Once home, have someone (not you) routinely wipe the dog down with solutions that will help remove fur and dander before you have the opportunity to inhale them. These solutions are commercially available, but water is an acceptable alternative in many cases.

Remember, too, that dogs often collect considerable amounts of pollen and mold in their coats when they go outdoors. If you have sensitivities to these items as well, make wiping the dog down a routine event whenever your dog comes in from the great outdoors. It may not be possible to completely eliminate hypersensitivities in this manner, but we certainly understand the motivation for wanting to give it a try. It is a good idea for people with allergies/pollen sensitivities to "clear the air” by placing HEPA filters in key rooms of the house, especially bedrooms and living rooms. And train your dog to go into a crate or his own dog bed outside of your bedroom to keep allergens from accumulating in the bedroom.

Breeds with Lower Allergenicity

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