Pets. The sad truth is that many of us can’t live with them, but can’t live without them. The good news is that if you or somebody in your home insist on having a pet (for whatever reason), a hairless pet isn’t the only solution.
Dander is the most commonly troublesome pet allergen. This is shed by the skin of warm blooded pets, and can be found on the animal’s fur. Pet saliva is another common allergen. These allergens then latch on to the pet’s hair. As a result, people often mistakenly assume the fur is the major culprit in this scenario, when in actual fact the fur is simply the carrier. While no cats, dogs, rodents or even birds are completely non-allergenic, hypoallergenic pets produce less allergens than the others. A number of adorably fluffy cat and dog breeds are considered ‘hypoallergenic breeds’. These breeds produce fewer allergens than other breeds, earning them this title. If you’re somebody who struggles with allergies but yearns for the affection of a fur-baby, one of the following cute critters may be your ultimate happy medium.
- Hypoallergenic dog breeds
- Hypoallergenic cat breeds
- Hypoallergenic exotics
- Dwarf Hamster Dander?
- Hypoallergenic Pets for People with Allergies
- Thinking outside the box to find your new companion
- What are hypoallergenic pets?
- Types of hypoallergenic pets
- Best hypoallergenic pets for children
- Best hypoallergenic pets for small spaces
- Other ways to protect your home from pet dander
- Do you accept cats and other animals?
- Finding a cat sitter
- Living with Guinea Pig Allergies
- Does that mean you should be concerned about the allergic reaction?
- Are guinea pig allergies common?
- Can you be allergic to guinea pigs?
- Why am I allergic to guinea pigs?
- How to know if you are allergic to guinea pigs?
- What to do if you are allergic to guinea pigs?
- Conclusion: Guinea pigs and allergies
- Related Questions
Hypoallergenic dog breeds
Bedlington Terrier: These cute pooches sport curly, woolly coats and weigh in at around the 10kg mark. They are known for their minimal shedding, which means less allergen-carrying-fluff build-up in your home.
Bichon Frise: Affectionately referred to as “powder puff” dogs, bichon frises have a softer fur undercoat and a coarse, curly outer coat. They weigh anywhere between 5kg and 10kg in general.
Kerry Blue Terrier: This breed is deemed hypoallergenic because it sheds less dander than many other breeds. Born with black coats, their fur turns to a shade of blue-grey as the puppy grows. The kerry blue terrier is also known for being fun-loving, energetic, and for its outstanding hunting instincts (so probably not the best choice of dog if you have a family cat).
Irish Water Spaniel: These sizable dogs sport a curly mop of fur and can weight up to 30kg. This breed does require regular grooming and bathing. However, this also helps to further reduce allergens.
One of the smaller hypoallergenic breeds, the Maltese weighs in at roughly around 3kg. They have silky coats that should be brushed daily.
Hypoallergenic cat breeds
Siberian Cat: This furiously fluffy breed is believed to produce either none or relatively little of the Fel D1 allergen, in comparison with other cats. Another theory with regard to this breed’s hypoallergenic qualities is that its fur helps its skin to stay well hydrated and as a result thwarts dander production and distribution.
Russian Blue: This is another popular hypoallergenic breed that actually produces less of the glycoprotein Fel D1 – the substance that causes people to struggle with an allergic reaction.
Cornish Rex: These cats aren’t hairless in their entirety, but they do feature two fewer layers of hair than what regular cats do. Their coat consists of a soft “undercoat” of down hair – the layer of fur covered by two other layers of fur in most cats. For this reason they tend to shed less than other cats, making them a great pet option for people with allergies.
LaPerm: Known for its unusual coat, the LaPerm cat sports a unique, curly coat. The reason it is believed to be less offensive to those with allergies is that it sheds less fur than other cats, and its curls help to keep dander shed by the cat’s skin from spreading.
Balinese: Also referred to as the “long-haired Siamese,” Balinese cats produce much less of the Fel D1 protein that triggers many individuals’ allergies.
Parakeet (or Budgie): Parakeets or budgies are great feathered options for bird fans as they shed very little dander, even when they are molting.
Syrian Hamster: The most common household hamster, these make for excellent pets for allergy sufferers as they are usually confined to a small living space. This means that they are unable to shed dander all over the house. The same can be said of gerbils, guinea pigs, mice, chinchillas and rats as well. However, this is not to say that a person with allergies won’t be allergic to the rodent itself.
Ferret: Ferrets don’t shed dander like other domestic animals do, which makes them a suitable option for all those who are allergic to dander specifically.
Whichever hypoallergenic pet you eventually decide on, it’s always recommended that you spend time with any animal prior to bringing it into the home. This will help with determining whether or not the pet is compatible with your allergy and temperament requirements. Once a part of your family, it’s essential that your pet be groomed regularly to help further eliminate any allergens. It is also recommended that you consult a medical practitioner with regard to adopting a pet if you are allergic to animals. Remember that if there’s fur, there is bound to be a degree of shedding. So to help send that last little bit of fluff flying, be sure to clean and vacuum your home regularly (particularly areas in which the pet frequents) with a powerful, pet-hair friendly vacuum cleaner. Also be sure to deep clean carpets and upholstery every three months with a purpose built deep-cleaner.
Dwarf Hamster Dander?
I have very severe allergies to pet dander of any kind, and I own a robo hamster.
Of course, I am on several allergy medicines, and I wash my hands both before and after touching anything the hamster has had contact twith (which is good practice anyway). I am not noticing any increase in allergies since I got the little guy a month ago.
To help keep your dad from having a reaction, there are some simple rules that you should follow: Keep your hamster in your room at all times (even when in it’s ball), clean out your hamster’s cage yourself, and do not ask your dad to, wash your hands after touching anything that the hamster has been in contact with, keep the trash from cleaning out the cage (old bedding, paper towels, dirty litter if you use that, etc.) in your room until it is ready to go outside into a separate trash bin, and if you let your hamster out onto any carpet or bedding or other material, vacuum or wash that material afterwards.
These things will most likely keep your dad from having any problem whatsoever.
And he may not have a problem with them anyway. You never know!
Hypoallergenic Pets for People with Allergies
Thinking outside the box to find your new companion
Some people cannot imagine living life without one or more pets. For others, an animal companion—especially a furry one—can seem more like a prison sentence than another member of the family. People with pet allergies may experience anything from sneezing and a runny nose to coughing, chest tightness and shortness of breath when they come into contact with certain animals, according to the CDC. There are animals that are considered to be “hypoallergenic pets,” which could be a good option for allergy sufferers. However, you may have to be willing to think outside of the box a little bit and assess what truly makes an animal “hypoallergenic.”
Millions of pet owners (and potential pet owners) across the country suffer from some form of asthma or pet allergies. Fortunately, if you or someone in your household has allergies, it does not necessarily mean that you have to rule out pets altogether.
What are hypoallergenic pets?
Asthma and allergy symptoms occur when the body’s immune system reacts to allergens, such as the proteins found in pet dander, saliva and urine. These proteins are carried on small, easily-inhalable particles that are produced by all warm-blooded animals, including breeds that some claim to be hypoallergenic.
Many people assume that certain dog and cat breeds are hypoallergenic because they are hairless or do not shed, but things are not that simple. Because pet allergies are caused by reactions to pet dander or saliva, finding the right pet for someone with allergies involves individual research and careful decision-making.
Types of hypoallergenic pets
Is there such a thing as a truly hypoallergenic pet? The answer is complicated. Below, learn which specific animals and breeds are much less likely to cause reactions in people with asthma and allergies.
Can dogs and cats be hypoallergenic?
All warm-blooded animals produce the proteins that can cause allergic reactions in people with sensitive immune systems. Some cat and dog breeds, such as poodles and sphynx cats, are often recommended for people with allergies. However, finding a hypoallergenic pet can be more complicated than picking one of these (often pricey) breeds. For example, though certain dogs are considered “hypoallergenic,” they may in fact still cause allergy symptoms because of the proteins found in their skin (pet dander), saliva and urine. In fact, a study by Nicholas et al. (2011) recommended that “clinicians should advise patients that they cannot rely on breeds deemed to be ‘hypoallergenic’ to in fact disperse less allergen in their environment.”
Cats tend to cause more allergic reactions than dogs because they groom themselves more often, but both species have the potential to release allergens into the air that you breathe, no matter which breed you choose. Therefore, there is not really a cat or dog that is truly “hypoallergenic,” though some breeds may cause fewer problems for allergy sufferers because of their grooming habits or shedding patterns.
Smaller mammals and rodents still not entirely hypoallergenic
Guinea pigs, rabbits, hamsters
Smaller mammals and rodents, such as guinea pigs, rabbits, hamsters and chinchillas produce dander just like cats and dogs. The main difference is in the potential to prevent the spread of allergens throughout your house. These animals are typically caged and, therefore, most of their dander can be secluded to the area in which they live.
People with allergies should not handle these small pets, but they may be able to live without complaint in the same house as one of these furry friends. This may be a good choice for homes in which one person wants a pet, but another person is allergic.
Smaller mammals should be kept in a room with infrequent traffic and their cages should be cleaned regularly by someone without pet allergies. Remember, one size cage does not fit all. Rabbits have different dietary and space requirements than guinea pigs and, likewise, mice have different requirements than rats. Research is an essential step in bringing one of these small mammals into your home.
Note: Certain small mammals, such as guinea pigs, are incredibly social animals and should only be bought in pairs.
Believe it or not, pigs are becoming an increasingly popular house pet for families across the United States. If you are considering buying a pig, be warned—they grow to be up to 500 pounds. Those that live in smaller houses often find that their pet pig quickly becomes too big for their space. Even so-called mini pigs, when fed a healthy diet, will grow much larger than you may expect.
Should you look beyond mammals to find the right animal companion?
When you think of hypoallergenic pets, your mind probably fills with images of specific cat and dog breeds, but thinking outside of the box may be the key to finding the perfect pet for you and your family.
Birds are warm-blooded, meaning that they can produce dander that may cause a reaction in people with asthma or allergies. This dander can be spread when the bird flaps its wings, preens or defecates. Because of this, a birdcage—and the area around it—should be cleaned daily by someone without a pet allergy. However, it is possible for people with allergies to live relatively symptom-free with a bird in the house.
Reptiles and amphibians
Reptiles and amphibians usually do not cause allergic reactions because they do not produce the proteins found in the dander and saliva of warm-blooded animals. These pets can be an excellent choice for people with asthma or allergies, as long as you spend the time and effort required to care for them properly.
Snakes, frogs, lizards and turtles can be interesting and unique pets. However, these types of creatures have very specific thermal, hydrological, behavioral and dietary requirements that should be researched before adding them to your home. Additionally, potential owners should be aware that turtles have the potential to spread salmonella, a contagious bacterial disease.
Note: People with allergies should wear gloves and a dust mask when handling the rodents and insects that many reptiles and amphibians need to eat to survive.
Aquariums can be a beautiful addition to any home. Fish do not produce allergens, and many species can be relatively low maintenance compared to mammals, reptiles and birds. However, large aquariums could increase the relative humidity in the room around them, which can cause other air quality concerns such as mold growth.
Best hypoallergenic pets for children
It can be difficult to tell your child that they cannot have a dog or cat because of their allergies. However, getting them excited about an alternative pet may be just the answer. For example, tropical fish can be a great way to introduce your child to the fundamentals of pet ownership. As a plus, cleaning and maintaining the aquarium should not trigger allergic reactions, so your child should be able to learn to help with the upkeep.
For smaller mammals, birds, reptiles and some amphibians, there may be allergens present in the waste that could cause symptoms in your child. You may need to be prepared to shoulder the full responsibility of cleaning the cage or terrarium.
Note: If you have a pet in your home, you should let the parents of your child’s friends know before you invite them over. This will help prevent any surprise asthmatic or allergic reactions.
Best hypoallergenic pets for small spaces
When you live in an apartment or a small house, allergens in your home may accumulate more quickly. It may be tempting to find a small pet, such as a hamster, fish or turtle that will not take up as much space in your home. However, you should make sure to research the appropriate living space needed for any pet that you adopt.
With the correct size habitat, animals that live in cages and aquariums can be great options for people with allergies that live in smaller spaces. As long as the habitats are cleaned regularly, they should not prevent you from living in a relatively allergen-free apartment.
Other ways to protect your home from pet dander
The most effective way to protect your household from pet allergens is not to have any warm-blooded pets but, if that is not a possibility, there are other things that you can do to minimize exposure. Keep in mind that no amount of cleaning will eliminate allergens completely.
By cleaning your house regularly, you can minimize the concentration of allergens that you and your family come in contact with. This includes:
- Vacuuming and dusting
- Cleaning the walls
- Washing all pet beds, cages or aquariums
- Washing clothes and bedding after coming in contact with the pet
- Keeping the pet out of the bedrooms or any rooms with carpet or upholstered furniture
- Washing your pet weekly, if appropriate and possible
If your pet is enclosed in a cage or terrarium, make sure that it is placed away from supply and return vents to keep your HVAC system from spreading allergens throughout your home. Using heating and air conditioning filters, as well as adding air purifiers to your home, can help stop the spread of these allergens. Take note: some air purifiers are better for pet owners than others. The PECO technology inside the Molekule air purifier can effectively destroy the organic compounds present in pet dander and saliva, as well as remove larger particles that come from pets. This has helped many pet owners with allergies to feel more comfortable with their furry friends.
Every home is different, and every family is faced with different challenges when it comes to choosing the right pet. If possible, spend time with any animals that you might want to adopt before you bring them home. This can help ensure that they do not cause unexpected allergic reactions in any of your family members. Owning a pet can be difficult for people with allergies, but it is not impossible. With the right amount of research and dedication, you will be able to find the perfect animal companion for you and your household.
Do you accept cats and other animals?
At Rover, our love for animals extends way beyond dogs. So while dogs are at the heart of what we do, you’ll find sitters on Rover who care for cats, hamsters, guinea pigs and other animals.
Some pets—such as venomous snakes or horses— are prohibited from being cared for on Rover. Check out our Terms of Services to learn more about these types of animals.
As you would for a dog, simply create a profile for each pet and book the service through Rover. When it comes to entering what breed your non-dog pet is in the pet profile, select “cat” for your cat and “other pets” for any of your other animals.
Finding a cat sitter
1. Go to Rover.com and select the Search Sitters button.
2. Enter your zip code of address at the top of the page. Select the magnifying glass icon.
3. On the left side of the page is a list of filters. Beneath Additional Services check the box next to Cat care.
Browse sitters in your area who offer cat care. Visit sitter profiles to learn more about them and select the Contact button to get conversations started.
Living with Guinea Pig Allergies
“If you are truly committed to your companion animals, there is almost always a way. I cannot imagine life without mine, so a little suffering is worth it ten-fold!” by Laurie Ansberry.
Photo Credit: Thinkstock
The information on this page is not intended to be used as medical advice. This is a compilation of multiple sources about allergies and suggestions for dealing with and living with allergies. Please consult your physician or allergist for proper medical advice.
Signs include itchy eyes, sneezing, runny nose, persistent cough, shortness of breath, wheezing, a skin rash, and anaphylactic shock (a true medical emergency).
Symptoms of an allergic reaction include:
- Asthma, which is a respiratory reaction that causes difficulty in breathing.
- Rhinitis, which is characterized by a stuffy, runny nose.
- Conjunctivitis, which is an inflammation or infection of the eyes.
- Eczema, a skin rash which can be itchy and inflamed.Guinea pigs distribute allergen in the urine in the bedding. This allergen easily becomes airborne when the animal scurries around in its cage.
Don’t Blame the Hair
Allergies are caused by exposure to proteins that are normally present in the animal’s saliva or urine, or in secretions from glands in the skin. That’s why an allergic person should never clean the cage. Contrary to popular belief, the animal’s hair or dander do not themselves cause allergies, although they do make excellent airborne carriers for the offending proteins. Many experts say there is no good evidence that short-haired animals cause fewer allergies than long-haired, or that one breed is better than another.
See an allergist. Get tested for guinea pig allergies. When you call the allergist to make an appointment, be sure to tell them you want to be tested for guinea pigs as they may need to order the serum. Immunotherapy (allergy shots) for guinea pigs is the best option as successful treatment is a cure rather than treating symptoms with drugs. Treatment can take up to 18 months. It is likely to be covered on your health insurance policy. Asthma sufferers may enjoy relief, as immunotherapy offers a chance for a cure of allergies, which trigger asthma attacks for many.
If you do not test positive for guinea pig allergies, work with your allergist to determine a cause. You may be allergic to the hay. You may be allergic to pine or aspen bedding (if you use it). Some people have switched from pine bedding to aspen bedding and their allergy symptoms go away! Many have switched from pine to CareFresh or Yesterday’s News and their allergies go away.
- Do not keep your guinea pig in your bedroom.
- Do not store your hay in the house.
- Buy a true HEPA air purifier and put it right by the pig’s cage. Guinea pig allergens can stay in the air for a fairly long time and the purifier will help. Run it 24 hours a day if possible. Some air purifiers will cover a couple of rooms. Many people obtain significant relief with good air purifiers.
- Get another air purifier for your bedroom and keep the door closed and the purifier on all day. This way, at least you can sleep and you should feel better in the morning.
- Many houses are super insulated, not allowing any fresh air to circulate. Open a window and turn on a fan to eliminate mold spores floating around your house, but not during those “high pollen count” days!
Cage & Bedding
- Have a non-allergic family member clean the cage, which is the major potential source of allergens.
- Take the cage OUTSIDE to clean it if possible! It may be heavy and you may need help to do it. This, alone, can help a lot.
- Clean the cage at least once a week! Wear a mask and gloves when cleaning the cage. After you clean the cage, put the purifier on HIGH for one hour (moving the cage will disturb particles, especially if you clean it in the house).
- Do not use allergenic bedding. Try Cell-Sorb, CareFresh, Yesterday’s News, or towels.
- Only put as much hay in the cage as they will eat.
- When you refill the hay racks, try to be as gentle as possible to avoid dust.
- Fill the hay racks OUTSIDE! Keep extra hay OUTSIDE!
- Wear a mask and gloves if you can. Wearing rubber gloves will prevent you from transferring particles to your eyes. Cover your mouth and nose with a scarf if you do not have a mask available.
- Wash your hands and arms after you touch the hay.
- Have someone who is not allergic or asthmatic do the hay racks.
- After you fill the hay, put the purifier on HIGH for 1 hour.
- Try different brands of hay. Try different kinds of hay. The fresher and greener the better, perhaps an Orchard grass hay.
- Have a non-allergic person pre-fill paper bags of hay for you. Grab a ‘paper bag of hay’ and put it in the cage, bag and all. The guinea pigs will have fun playing with the bag AND eating the hay.
Handling Guinea Pigs & Hygiene
- Wash your hands and arms (and any other area that may have been touched) thoroughly and immediately after holding your guinea pigs. Perhaps apply a light layer of cortisol cream to prevent further outbreaks.
- Hold your piggie on a couple of thick towels so that there is no skin contact.
- Wash the holding towels every time they are used. One lap time = one wash!
- When holding your piggie, keep them away from your face, wear cotton gloves if necessary.
- Wear a turtleneck when holding your guinea pig. The skin on your neck and face is thinner and more sensitive than the skin on your hands and arms. Therefore, you are more likely to get an allergic reaction there. Try to keep them away from your face and neck.
- Wear a mask when holding your guinea pig. Wear an apron that you can dispose of in the laundry.
- Change your clothes immediately after holding your guinea pig and put them away from where you sleep.
- Try applying a topical antihistamine before you handle your Piggy.
- Dust, dust, dust the house! Vacuum, vacuum, vacuum the rugs or don’t have any rugs at all.
- Get a GOOD vacuum cleaner with hepa filters. An industrial vacuum cleaner may be a good option as they tend to extract more dust than the household cleaners.
- Replace carpeting that has your guinea pig’s dander on it or shampoo it thoroughly.
Medications and other therapies
- Get allergy shots. You CAN get shots for guinea pigs to help with the sensitivity. It’s time consuming and may not be 100% effective, but it can help! Same with the hay.
- If necessary, take medications prescribed by your allergist such as antihistamines, decongestants, inhalers, or asthma medications to relieve your symptoms.
- Try coating the inside of your nostrils with Vaseline to stop airborne particles from attacking the sensitive lining of your nose. Wipe clean after cleaning or handling activites.
- Investigate homeopathic solutions or treatments for allergies.
- Allerpet’s allerpet/C Solution is a shampoo which is supposed to be good for cats, bunnies, guinea pigs and other small animals.
- Aaaah Choo! I’m Allergic to My Guinea Pig by Vicki Palmer Nielsen, Jack Pine Guinea Pig Rescue. An EXCELLENT article with some additional suggestions.
- A Fosterer’s Allergy Experience by Laurie Ansberry. A woman who developed guinea pig allergies and her perseverance in dealing with it and ultimately overcoming it.
- Allerpet Care & Habitat Advice
Links To Additional Allergy Information
- Seagull’s Winning the Battle Against Odors and Allergies
- Taming Your Allergies to Pets
- Allergy Society of South Africa’s Pet Allergy
- UCSF’s Laboratory Animal Resource Center Center: Occupational Health and Safety Information for Staff with Substantial Contact with Guinea Pigs
- ILAR’s Laboratory Animal Allergens
- Allerpet, The site for people allergic to pets and dust
- Preventing Asthma in Animal Handlers
Many people think of getting themselves a pet but then they are not sure if they are allergic to the pet or not. So, it’s a good idea to learn everything about the pet in-depth before getting one. A few years back when I was trying to decide should I get a Guinea pig the first concern that struck my mind was about allergies. So, I did some research on allergy from guinea pigs and here is what I found out!
Are guinea pigs hypoallergenic? No, Guinea pigs are not Hypoallergenic. In fact, Any warm-blooded animal with hair, fur, or feathers can cause an allergic reaction to human beings. Many websites and people claim that there are these special little breeds that are hypoallergenic but studies claim that even the breed with No Fur or Hair can cause an allergic reaction.
But what exactly does hypoallergenic means?
The term “hypoallergenic” means that something is free from allergens or have very little chance to cause an allergic reaction to human beings. There are no set standards by the government for something to be hypoallergenic.
That means there is no standard procedure that we can go through and test if the thing is hypoallergenic or not. That is the reason many people claim that this product is hypoallergenic or this particular breed of the pet is hypoallergenic while it’s simply not true.
Does that mean you should be concerned about the allergic reaction?
No, until and unless you are a sensitive person you should not be much worried about allergies to guinea pigs. See, any pet can cause an allergic reaction to any person but that doesn’t mean you cannot own a pet.
Many people even who are allergic enjoy sharing their homes with there pets but many people believe once they are diagnosed with an allergy to a pet they cannot have any pets. Today we are going to break this myth.
Are guinea pig allergies common?
No, Guinea pigs are not the pet which usually causes an allergy to many people. Although most animals right from mice, cockroach, guinea pigs, cat, dog or even horse can cause an allergy to human beings.
Among all the above animal’s horses and cats are the ones who cause the most allergic reactions as they carry more allergens. Among small animals, twice the people are allergic to cats rather than a dog or any other animals.
Recommended Supplies For Guinea pigs: Our Top Picks! Before you read ahead here are some hand-picked supplies for your guinea pigs that you should definitely check out:
- Guinea pig cage: Midwest Guinea Pig Cage
- Bedding: GuineaDad Fleece Liner
- Guinea pig Hay: Oxbow Timothy Hay
- Guinea pig Pellets: Hayloft Timothy Pellets
- Water bottle: Choco Nose No-Drip Bottle
- Food bowl: STAYbowl Tip-Proof Pet Bowl
- Hiding spaces: Fleece hideout for guinea pigs
- Guinea pig Toys: Kaytee Chew & Treat Toy
Please note: I do get a small commission(no extra cost to you) when you buy these products from the Amazon link above, however it really helps me in bringing up quality content for you. All the products are the one I love. No crap!
Since cats roam around the house spreading the allergen all over the place, while a dog is the one closest to us. They pose more risk than a small animal like a guinea pig who is present in their cage in a particular space of your house.
Can you be allergic to guinea pigs?
Yes, you can definitely develop an allergy to guinea pigs. It is seen that people who are sensitive or have a family background of asthma, hypersensitivity, etc can develop an allergy to guinea pigs. However, it is not the case in 90% of the people.
Many people believe that guinea pigs are the source of their allergy but that might not be the case all the time. Maybe when you brought them they had something attached to their skin or fur which could have caused the allergic reaction. It’s best if you visit a doctor first and check what caused the reaction before coming to a conclusion.
Some people are also allergic to the Smell of guinea pigs. You can learn in-depth about Guinea pigs smell and how to prevent it in this article.
Why am I allergic to guinea pigs?
Guinea pigs are not always the cause of your allergy. In general, when people say they are allergic to guinea pigs then that means they are allergic to one of the allergens the guinea pig carries. Now, what actually is an allergen?
Remember when I said any warm-blooded animal which has hair, fur or feather can cause an allergy to a human being. What I actually meant was the protein that is attached to it causes the allergy. In most cases, hairs or fur is not the actual reason for your allergy; its the protein attached to it.
What exactly are these proteins? in general there are 2 types of protein attached to guinea pigs hair i.e. Cav P I and Cav P II. These proteins generally are carried and transmitted either by dander, Saliva or urine of the guinea pig. Let me explain to you all in detail how these are transmitted and causes allergic reactions in human beings.
Dander is the first and most basic cause of an allergic reaction to human beings. It is basically the dead skin cells which animals shed on a regular interval. It is one of the root allergen triggering allergies in human beings.
Most warm-blooded animals including guinea pigs regardless of their breed, size or hair length is going to produce dander which will spread in the surrounding eventually leading to allergies. These allergies are mostly the result of protein from the dander itself.
Guinea pigs saliva primarily contains Cav P I and Cav P II. These are the major Guinea pigs allergen, which causes various allergies in individuals. Guinea pigs are clean animals; they usually groom themselves all the time.
In general, Guinea pigs use a white wax-like liquid that comes from the end of their eyes and their own saliva to groom their fur. Often time this results in their saliva protein getting all over their fur.
Thus whenever we come in contact with the fur the protein allergen reacts with the individual and causes severe allergies.
Just like guinea pigs saliva the urine of guinea pigs also contains Cav P I and Cav P II. The concentration of these proteins in the urine is even higher than that of saliva.
Since guinea pigs are caged animals usually they have very limited space and when they move around, eat and pee at the same cage it is a normal phenomenon for the urine to get over their fur. Also, If their cage is not maintained on a daily basis the chances of getting infected further rises high.
This is one of the major allergens in small mammals like guinea pigs. The grease glands are the most infected area with a large number of allergens present in it.
Note: Except these many times we find that people are actually allergic to hay and bedding of guinea pigs. So, it is really important first to find the cause of the allergy and then take the necessary action to prevent the same.
Source: US National Library of Medicine.
How to know if you are allergic to guinea pigs?
Although the intensity of allergy from guinea pigs differs from person to person. In general most of the individuals show some common symptoms of being allergic to guinea pigs. These symptoms can be lighter in some person were as severe in the other.
- Runny nose
- Itchy skin and eyes
- Red rashes in some parts of the skin(mostly hands).
- Shortness of breath
Some people have more visible allergic reactions than others. If you are unsure about the same you can wait and observe your body carefully for any signs of uneasiness. But just because you were sneezing when you were around guinea pig doesn’t mean you are allergic to them.
There can be some severe cases of diseases that can be caused due to allergies from guinea pigs. Some of the worst diseases include:
- Anaphylactic shock
Although these diseases are rare cases of allergies and are extremely unlikely to happen. In most cases, you will have some light symptoms like sneezing, runny nose, etc.
Please note: I am not a medical professional. All the data written below are collected from credible sources but for proper medical advice consult your doctor!
What to do if you are allergic to guinea pigs?
Guinea pigs can cause allergies to some person but that doesn’t mean you cannot have a guinea pig or any other pet. If you are allergic to the guinea pigs and unless the allergy is severe we can take some steps in order to stop being allergic to guinea pigs and decrease the allergens from our indoor environment.
- Do not keep the guinea pigs cage in the bedroom. If possible have a dedicated room for them this shall ensure the allergen does not get spread all over the place.
- Try to have good ventilation and airflow in the area your guinea pigs are kept. Additionally using a H.E.P.A air purifier can further pull out all the allergens from the air and keep it clean.
- If you are allergic to hay or their bedding try to store them outside your house in a cool and dry place.
- Clean the room floor, curtains or any other thing present in the room where guinea pigs are located on a regular basis to keep them allergen-free.
- Have a non-allergic person clean the cage on a daily basis so the allergens do not build up over time.
- Clean your cage thoroughly using vinegar and soap once a week or so this shall sanitize the living environment very effectively.
- Avoid hay or pine bedding, Use effective bedding that keeps the cage clean. Try CareFresh, Cell-sorb or towel.
- Try to use only good quality hay. There are many brands that provide dust-free and fresh hay.
- You can use gloves and a face mask while working with hay or ask someone else to do it for you.
- Wash your hands before and after holding your guinea pigs. If possible use a towel to hold them whenever possible.
- Wash the towel used for holding after every time it is used. This shall prevent any spreading of allergens in your skin.
- Use a good vacuum cleaner to clean your house on a regular basis. this shall clean away all the dust and dander from the environment.
- Do not bring your guinea pigs near your mouth and neck. These are the most sensitive area of your skin. If possible avoid taking your guinea pigs in your beds and other mattresses.
- You can also use some medication to relieve yourself from the allergy. Allergy shots, antihistamines, decongestants, inhalers, etc works great in decreasing the symptoms over time.
- You can also consume a diet high in Vitamin C for making your immune system strong against such allergy and curing them in the long-term.
Although there is no exact or proper cure for the same. A mix of maintaining a clean living environment and medication seems to have worked for many people who want to own a guinea pig despite the allergy.
You can learn more about pet allergies in this article from a helpful resource.
Conclusion: Guinea pigs and allergies
Are Guinea Pigs Hypoallergenic? No, guinea pigs are definitely not hypoallergenic but most people are not allergic to these furry little pets. Some people do have some allergy symptoms which can be stopped by using the above methods.
An Alternative, I would suggest you should first visit a pet store or ask some friends guinea pig for some time and spend some time with them to see how your body reacts. If your body is normal with it you can get yourself a guinea pig for sure. Else you need to reconsider your decision to buy the Guinea pig once again.
I would recommend you to learn more about guinea pigs before you get one for yourself or if you have not researched them in detail then this might be the right time to start. Here are a few articles which you must read:
Basic information on guinea pigs.
4 essentials to consider before getting a guinea pig.
Are there any hypoallergenic guinea pig breeds?
No, There are no guinea pigs which are hypoallergenic. In fact, there are no warm-blooded animals with hair, fur or feather which are hypoallergenic. Although some animals produce more allergens than others; allergen-free animals are only a lie.
Are skinny pigs hypoallergenic?
No, Skinny guinea pigs can also cause allergies just like regular guinea pigs. As we have discussed earlier the cause of allergy is the protein that comes from dander, saliva, and urine of the guinea pig. Hair is not at all the cause of allergy but it is surely a carrier of allergen.
So, the thought that hairless guinea pig is hypoallergenic is just a myth.
Sources: Severe allergic reactions to a guinea pig, allergic reactions to guinea pig