Thursday, June 16, 2011

Pets and Allergies

Childrens' lives are enriched numerous ways by the companionship of a pet. Pets teach empathy, help strengthen the immune system, and aid with emotional troubles such as depression. Children with pet friends do better in school, have more traditional values, and treat their parents with greater respect. According to one study, there is another positive aspect regarding pets and children. Children with pets are less likely to develop allergic rhinitis and asthma than children without pets. 

Henry Ford Hospital Study

Researchers led by Ganesa Wegienka MS, PhD found that men growing up with indoor dogs developed allergies at half the rate as those without dogs. The study also concluded both men and women were half as likely to develop allergies to cats under the same circumstances. This was especially true if the children were under one year of age during the time of pet companionship. The 565 participants in the study were followed from birth to adulthood. A link to an article about the study can be found HERE. It seems parents who try to shield children from allergens are doing their youngsters a disfavor. Rather than avoiding future problems, the parents are creating problems instead. 

Already Allergic? 

So there you sit, all grown up, and deathly allergic to Fido and Fuffy. What can you do? 

The no sneeze cat.

The cutie in the picture above is named Pikachu. She was bred by a company named Allerca who works to provide allergy suffers with hypoallergenic pets. Cats produce a protein called Fel d 1. This allergy causing substance is found in cats' saliva and urine. At first, the Allerca scientists tried to disable the protein gene, but were unsuccessful. They then discovered some cats have a unique version of the gene less apt to produce an allergic reaction. After screening thousands of cats, Allerca found enough hypoallergenic kitties to offer pets for the allergic public. It turned out the mutant gene is dominant, so hypoallergenic cats can be bred to normal cats and produce hypoallergenic kittens. The kittens are incredibly expensive. Currently, kittens cost between $6,950.00 - $22,950. Yikes! Since the cats were so popular, they are now selling hypoallergenic dogs for $7,950.  National Geographic Magazine wrote an article about the company in 2006.

American Hairless Terrier

   Naturally Hypoallergenic Dogs

What do you do if you can't spend nearly $8,000 on a specially designed dog? There are a number of breeds considered "low dander" that may suit your needs. The least allergy producing breed is the American Hairless Terrier. If you prefer something with fur; the Bichon Frise, Irish Water Spaniel, Kerry Blue Terrier, Maltese, Poodle, Bedlington Terrier, Portuguese Water Dog, Schnauzer, and Wheaten Terriers are all a possiblity. A good site about hypoallergenic breeds is found HERE.

Cat Allergy Vaccine

There's some good news for all the allergic cat lovers of the world. A vaccine has been developed at McMaster University which protects people with allergies to cats. You can thank immunologist Mark Larche for this discovery. Though the allergic patient may need between four to eight doses of the vaccine at first, it is safe, and hazards almost no side effects. An article can be found on the ScienceDaily website.

So there is hope for all the allergy sufferers of the world. Pets bring happiness to both adults and children. They're good for our emotional and physical health. It's worth taking the extra effort to allow them into our world.

No comments: