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What Small Pets Are Hypoallergenic?

Last Updated: 27.02.20


Allergies are triggered by allergens usually found in a warm-blooded pet’s dander, urine, or saliva, so dogs, cats, and rodents might not be a suitable choice. Before buying a hamster enclosure, you should give reptiles, amphibians, and fish a try, as they don’t trigger allergic reactions. 

While some people have had animals in their homes for their entire lives and could not imagine it any other way, for others having a pet is only a dream. Allergies are not fun, and having a furry little friend in your home might sometimes feel like a prison sentence than enjoying the lovely company of another living soul. 

Allergies can manifest in many different ways, from sneezing and having a runny nose to chest tightness, coughing, or shortness of breath. This happens if an individual dealing with such issues comes into contact with certain types of animals. The good news is that there are pets that are considered to be hypoallergenic. 

This means that even though you have not had a pet up until now, you have a real chance of getting a small companion. But first, let’s see what the main things you should know about allergies and hypoallergenic pets are. 


A bit about hypoallergenic pets

You probably know this, but allergy symptoms and asthma occur when an individual’s immune system reacts to allergens, such as those found in pet saliva, urine, or dander. These are small proteins carried around through small and easily-inhalable particles. Unfortunately for our fluffy and adorable pets, these particles are produced by warm-blooded animals. 

Breeds that are sometimes thought to be hypoallergenic, such as hairless cats and dogs or those that do not shed, are included as well. It would be great if things would be so simple for those dealing with allergies, but that’s not the case. Pet allergies are also caused by reactions to saliva or dander, so finding a truly hypoallergenic pet usually requires careful research. 

Before doing this research, you should also know what triggers certain allergic reactions in the person who is going to own the little guy, since there can be differences regarding this aspect as well. 

Hypoallergenic pets

In order to determine what type of hypoallergenic pet you should consider, it’s a good idea to get to know a bit more about this category overall. If you are wondering whether there is such a thing as a completely hypoallergenic pet, the answer to this is rather complicated and it depends on a lot of factors. 

Not necessarily small pets, but certainly popular ones, cats and dogs can be somewhat allergenic. Poodles and Sphynx cats are usually recommended to individuals dealing with such a condition, but you should keep in mind that all warm-blooded animals do produce those proteins that lead to allergic reactions. 

One thing you might not be very happy about if you love cats is that they tend to cause more such reactions than dogs, mainly because they groom themselves more. However, both types of pets have the ability to release allergens into the air, which means that you are not completely safe, no matter what you choose. 

The truth is that no cat or dog is truly hypoallergenic, and the only solution here is finding those breeds that are simply causing fewer problems for a person suffering from this. However, the world of pets has many other alternatives, so if cats and dogs are completely out of the question for you, then there is still a good chance that you are going to find yourself a new little friend. 


Rodents & birds 

Smaller warm-blooded pets, such as rabbits, hamsters, guinea pigs, or chinchillas also produce dander, just like dogs and cats do. However, there is a big difference when it comes to rodents, namely the potential to prevent allergens from getting spread around the house. These small pets are usually caged, so most of their dander tends to remain in one place. 

Determining whether a rodent is the right pet for your family depends on various factors, the most important one being the severity of the issue and who is going to take care of the little fellow. People dealing with allergies should definitely not handle them, but they might be able to live under the same roof without complaint. 

There are some household rules that should be followed if one person living in the house has the pets and another one has allergies. The first one is that the pet should be kept in a room with less traffic. Moreover, the cage needs to be cleaned by any family member who doesn’t suffer from allergies and this needs to be done as often as needed to prevent any aggravation. 

Birds are warm-blooded as well, which means that they can produce dander just as well as their larger counterparts and, of course, this can trigger allergic reactions in people already dealing with this. Dander can be easily spread as birds are flapping their wings, so they are not really a good choice if a member of your family needs to steer clear of allergens. 

Reptiles & amphibians

In the case of these pets, we are no longer talking about warm-blooded ones, so things are a lot different. Reptiles do not usually cause allergic reactions simply because their bodies do not produce those proteins found in the saliva or dander of warm-blooded pets. As you’ve probably guessed, amphibians and reptiles are an excellent choice for people with allergies or asthma. 

However, they still need to be properly taken care of, which means that their cage should be kept clean all the time. Other reptiles can be very interesting and unique choices, such as snakes, lizards, or turtles. While snakes might not seem like such a good idea for some people, turtles can definitely be a nice pet, especially for a household with kids.  

When it comes to reptiles, it’s important to remember that they have very particular thermal, behavioral, and dietary requirements, so make sure that you do some research and that you have everything you need before getting the little guy. 

Fish can also be a good addition to any home, given that they don’t produce the allergens that warm-blooded pets do, and they are also very beautiful. Moreover, fish can be low maintenance compared to other types of animals, but you need to be aware that large tanks increase the humidity in a room, so air quality concerns may appear. 

Also, the aquarium needs to be regularly cleaned, which is not that difficult to do, but it’s still a bit more complex than simply taking a dog out for a walk. 


Homes with kids  

Handling the whole pets matter might be difficult if you have children that suffer from allergies or asthma. However, even if they won’t be able to have a dog or a cat, you can still get them excited about a pet such as tropical fish or turtles. Moreover, owning a pet can help them understand basic responsibility concepts, which is always a good thing. 

Cleaning and maintaining an aquarium should not trigger any allergic reactions, but before welcoming any new pet to your home, make sure that you get an expert’s opinion, especially if your kid has a rather severe condition. 

Another very useful piece of advice for any pet owner is letting people visiting your home know about your little friend before having them come over. This way, you prevent any type of surprise allergic or asthmatic reactions that could ruin a birthday party for example. 

Furthermore, if the space you live in is not very large, but you are still considering getting a pet, then a bit of research is needed beforehand. You want to make sure that you have the appropriate living space that any hamster, turtle or fish needs to be comfortable. 




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Irina Ionescu

As a long-term learner and animal lover, Irina helps her readers find the best products and accessories for their pets, as well as the latest training techniques, tips & tricks on how to handle animals.

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