Obama will not be able to select allergy-free First Dog.

by James Hubbard, M.D., M.P.H.

President-elect Barack Obama says one of his first priorities will be to obtain a First Dog.

His daughter Malia has allergies and a canine club called the Association of Friends of Hairless Dogs of Peru has offered one they say is hypoallergenic.

The American Academy of Allergy, Asthma and Immunology begs to differ, stating there is no such thing as a hypoallergenic dog.  Not only more credible, the AAAI has two less “ofs” in their long name.

Here’s their press release, with my comments and a question below it.

MILWAUKEE – As President-Elect Barack Obama and the future First Family begin their search for a new pet to join them at the White House, the American Academy of Allergy, Asthma & Immunology (AAAAI) wishes to remind individuals with allergies that there is no truly “hypoallergenic” dog.

Obama’s 10-year-old daughter, Malia, suffers from allergies to dogs – a condition she shares with millions of Americans.

It is a common misconception that people are allergic to a dog’s hair, and it is falsely believed that a dog that sheds less will not cause a reaction. However, allergies to pets are caused by protein found in the animal’s dander (dead skin cells), saliva or urine.

These proteins are carried on microscopic particles through the air. When inhaled, they trigger reactions in allergic people. As all dogs posses these proteins, there is no allergy-free dog.

Though some dog breeds are considered more allergy friendly, it is likely because they are groomed more frequently – a process that removes much of the dander.
While the most effective treatment for animal allergies is avoidance, this is not always possible. The AAAAI offers these other tips for minimizing allergy symptoms:

  • Visit an allergist/immunologist to diagnose the allergy and discuss treatment, which may include maintenance medications or immunotherapy (allergy shots).
  • Keep the pet out of the allergic person’s bedroom. Animal dander will collect on pillows, leading to worsened symptoms at night and morning.
  • Bathe the animal weekly to reduce the amount of dander shed at home.
  • Replace carpeting with hardwood or other solid-surface flooring for easy clean-up.
  • Vacuuming may not be effective in decreasing allergen levels, but using a HEPA filter and double bags may help.
  • Wash bedding and clothing in hot water. While animal allergens are not easily removed by high temperatures, these measures may help.

An allergist/immunologist is the best-qualified medical professional to diagnose and treat animal allergies. Additional information on animal allergies is available at www.aaaai.org.

So, President-elect Obama, here’s some unsolicited advice.  To coin a phrase, “It’s the grooming, sir.”  OK, I did change a few words to make a point (and because I don’t want my house bugged).

Having said all this, I know people who swear after they got their new dog, they had less allergies, or their kid’s asthma was better.

Do you have any experience with this?

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11 Responses to “Obama will not be able to select allergy-free First Dog.”

  1. Dr. J Says:

    This is really interesting! I wondered about this. I had allergies to my dogs as a child. Really, looking back, because my parents got rid of the dog, the “asthma” was not as important as my first dog. I would make a different choice. That said, once I was on my own, I got a dog, and never had a problem!

  2. James Hubbard, M.D., M.P.H. Says:

    Thanks Dr. J

    Glad you found the right kind of dog for you. Everybody needs a dog.

  3. cathy Says:

    I am LOL at this article (two less “ofs” in their name – love it!) and am informed by it too. Thanks!

    cathys last blog post..Surprising HFCS food of the week

  4. James Hubbard, M.D., M.P.H. Says:

    Glad you liked it Cathy

  5. FatFighterTV Says:

    It’s the same with cats, right? All I know is my friends and family who are allergic to cats don’t have a reaction around my cat, or have much less of one. It’s odd, but good!

    FatFighterTVs last blog post..News Nugget: Obese kids have middle-aged arteries

  6. lhubbard Says:

    Cathy: Ditto–what you said! Ha!

    Leigh Ann Hubbard
    Managing Editor
    James Hubbard’s My Family Doctor

  7. Blake Says:

    I am allergic to dogs and it triggers my asthma like crazy. Good info here, thanks!

    Blakes last blog post..Quick Thought on Exercise

  8. James Hubbard, M.D., M.P.H. Says:

    Interesting, FatfightTV. If your friends and family did have worse allergic reactions, which would you get rid of? Actually I will be posting on a related subject tomorrow.

  9. James Hubbard, M.D., M.P.H. Says:

    Sorry to hear that, Blake.

  10. HealthyNerd Says:

    Or have his children take Omega-3 EPA/DHA 2:1 ratio to alleviate Asthma Inflammation. Thanks, doctor!

    HealthyNerds last blog post..Stem Cells from Hair Follicles May Help “Grow” New Blood Vessels

  11. James Hubbard, M.D., M.P.H. Says:

    Thanks for the tip, HealthyNerd.

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