Best Pets for Kids With Allergies

Visit a pet at a friend's home first to see if your child is allergic to it


The idea that some dog breeds are hypo-allergenic is a common misconception, says Dr. Jules Benson, a veterinarian and vice president of Veterinary Services at Petplan Pet Insurance in Philadelphia. All dogs shed skin and have allergens in their urine and saliva. However, some dogs with fast-growing hair, rather than fur, seem to cause fewer allergies and might be appropriate for kids with mild allergies. Dr. Benson recommends the following dog breeds to minimize the risk of allergic reactions: poodle, Shih Tzu, Lhasa apso, Yorkshire terrier, Maltese, Chinese crested, schnauzer, Airedale and Portuguese water dog.

MORE: Introducing Your Pet to Your Tot

Managing Pets

A child with pet allergies can have a dog or cat if you take a few precautions, according to the Humane Society of the United States. Talk to your pediatrician or an allergist about your child's allergies before bringing home a pet. Your doctor can help you determine which type of animal is best for your child and family. Bathe your pet weekly, using a shampoo specifically made for dogs or cats to remove skin flakes and hair. Install HEPA air cleaners in your home and dust, vacuum and mop frequently. Finally, keep pets out of your child's room and bedding.

Choosing a Pet

Depending on the type of animal you buy, your pet will be part of your family for many years to come. Think carefully about your decision. Your child might beg for a dog, but if he has severe allergies, consider an alternative. Think about your goals in getting a pet, advises Dr. Deborah Gilboa, a family care physician in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania, and author of "Teach Resilience: Raising Kids Who Can Launch." By articulating what you hope to gain from a pet, you might find alternatives. "If you want a pet to stroke or teach tricks, perhaps you might consider a bird," notes Gilboa.

MORE: Teaching Kids to Say Goodbye to Pets

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