General Information About Allergies: An allergy is an abnormal reaction or sensitivity to certain substances or “allergens” that is triggered by an overreaction of the immune system. A person with allergies experiences symptoms when exposed to these, otherwise harmless, substances (e.g., pollen, dust, fragrance). The immune system rallies its defenses and launches an “attack” against the “enemy.” In the process, some unpleasant symptoms such as a runny/itchy nose, sneezing, eye swelling, itchy rash, etc. and, in extreme cases, life-threatening symptoms (asthma, anaphylaxis) may occur.
How Many People Have Allergies and How Do You Get Them?: Allergies are quite common, affecting one out of six Americans, according to the American Academy of Allergy and Immunology. They can affect anyone, regardless of age, gender, or race. While allergies are more common in children, you can develop an allergy at any age. Allergies tend to run in families, but the exact genetic factors are not yet understood.
Allergies To Pets: Some 20 to 25 million people in the U.S.A. suffer from allergies to pets. Nearly all pet allergies are caused by a glandular protein secreted onto the animal’s skin. When the skin is shed, tiny dander flakes float around in the air and make their way into people’s noses, throats, and eyes and cause an immune reaction. Others are allergic to the protein in the pet’s saliva or urine. Contrary to popular belief, it is NOT the animal’s hair or coat that people are allergic to. However, there is a relationship between the coat and the allergic reaction. Specifically, the coat holds the dander so the pet is a “walking allergen.”
Is There a Hypo-Allergenic Dog?: All dogs, even hairless dogs (including the AHT), produce the proteins responsible for allergic reactions. There is some evidence of breed specific allergens, variation in dander turnover rates, variation in allergic reaction generated from a puppy vs. and adult, and a decrease in allergic reaction to non-shedding dogs (fewer allergens released into the air) so that some people can tolerate one breed but not another. The amount of dander required to produce an allergic reaction varies from person to person. So, if the level is below that threshold, there may not be an obvious reaction (does not mean that there isn’t an immune response that the individual doesn’t detect).
Allergies and the AHT: Many people who suffer from allergies have discovered that the American Hairless Terrier is a wonderful companion that does not trigger their typical allergy symptoms. While the AHT may not be the answer for everyone, the smooth unique skin (?slower dander production), lack of hair (no shedding and releasing dander into the air) and ease of removing dander with regular bathing, make it a successful choice for many families that have been unable to have a pet.
Coated vs. Hairless: Currently the AHT has two varieties – the hairless and the coated carrier. While the hairless is the ultimate goal, the current gene pool is still small and in need of strengthening. Therefore, new bloodlines are created with crossings back to purebred Rat Terriers. The coated variety of the AHT is likely to cause the same allergic reaction as other coated dogs. Therefore, the hairless AHT is the recommended variety for allergy sufferers.
How Do I Know If the AHT Will Work for Me?: The only way to know if you can tolerate the AHT is to go through an allergy trial. For details on allergy trials, email firstname.lastname@example.org . The American Hairless Terrier Association has a list of individuals all around the world who are willing to volunteer their time and allow allergy sufferers into their homes to conduct an allergy trial. Prior to completing the trial, you must be ready to make the behavioral and environmental modifications necessary to improve the chances for long-term success.
How Do I Reduce an Allergic Reaction?
-Keep your dog out of your bedroom and those rooms where you spend a lot of time. You may need to purchase baby gates or close doors so the dog is physically prevented from entering those areas.
- Keep your dog off the furniture or cover the furniture with washable slipcovers or plastic, zipped casings.
- Install a HEPA type air filter or other air purifier/filter in your room and in the rooms where the pet spends a lot of time, to remove airborne dander. Also consider an electrostatic filter or high efficiency air filters in your home’s central heating/air-conditioning system and replace them on a regular basis (every 2-4 weeks is optimal).
- Clean and vacuum, with a HEPA vacuum, frequently
- Have a non-allergic family member wash the pet and the dog’s bedding, regularly (at least weekly).
-Remove carpet and upholstered furniture. Replace with solid flooring (hardwood, tile) and leather furniture as they are easily cleaned and do not gather as much dust or trap the dander inside the fibers/fabric.
-Feed your dog a complete, well-balanced diet that is by-product free and includes some natural fat. A healthy diet will improve the condition of your dog’s skin thereby reducing dryness and flaking.
- Keep your dog protected from the sun. A sunburned AHT will have dry, flaking skin!
- Train your dog not to lick you and to stay off the furniture.
-Talk with your doctor about allergy medications (new or modified dosing) and discuss shots to desensitize you to your allergies.
Although the AHT is not for everyone, many have been able to experience the joy, unconditional love, and companionship of a dog, thanks to this incredible breed!