I know from experience what it’s like to love dogs despite having a dog allergy.
So I understand why a lot of people wonder if Chis are hypoallergenic.
In this article you’ll discover:
- The real triggers of dog allergy.
- The biggest misconception about the term ‘hypoallergenic’.
- How to make friends with your dog allergy and enjoy your dog (don’t miss tip #3).
- And much more…
Table of contents
- Are Chihuahuas hypoallergenic?
- What does hypoallergenic mean?
- What causes dog allergy?
- Common symptoms of dog allergy
- Skin symptoms of dog allergy:
- My experience
- 19 tips on how to live with a dog allergy and a Chihuahua
- #1: Spend a bit of time with a Chihuahua
- #2: Bathe and brush your Chi regularly
- #3: Make the bedroom a Chihuahua-free zone
- #4: Get an air purifier with a HEPA filter
- #5: Change the air filter regularly
- #6: Keep the house clean
- #7: Remove dust-gathering surfaces
- #8: Wash your hands
- #9: Allergy shots or immunotherapy
- #10: Avoid touching other dogs
- #11: Accept a paw but not a ‘kiss’
- #12: More outdoor time for your Chi
- #13: Ventilate the air in your home
- #14: Ensure your Chi has high-quality food
- #15: Decrease or stop ingesting allergenic foods
- #16: Have yourself tested for allergies and food intolerance
- #17: Use saline (salt water) rinse
- #18: Don’t allow your Chi to go onto furniture
- #19: Consult with your doctor and an allergist
Are Chihuahuas hypoallergenic?
Chihuahuas are not hypoallergenic. There are no hypoallergenic dogs. That’s because dog allergies are caused by dog dander and not dog fur. Each dog could affect an individual’s allergy differently. Some people who are allergic to dogs might not be allergic to long or short hair Chihuahuas.
What does hypoallergenic mean?
Before we go further into the topic, let’s make sure we’re on the same page here.
When someone says something is hypoallergenic, they mean it has little likelihood of causing an allergic reaction.
And while there are smaller chances, the possibility that it leads to an allergic reaction is still there.
What causes dog allergy?
A protein contained in the dog’s hair, saliva, urine and dead skin flakes (dander).
Different type of dog breeds produce different amounts of dander. This explains why you might suffer an allergic reaction to one dog but not to another.
What happens during an allergic reaction is that the immune system reacts abnormally. It produces antibodies which identify the allergens as harmful (even though they aren’t).
And as soon as you inhale the allergen, your nasal passages and lungs get irritated and inflamed.
To add to that, the more you expose yourself to the allergen, the likelier it is to develop chronic airway inflammation connected to asthma.
The allergens could lead to an asthma attack in some people who have this health condition.
Common symptoms of dog allergy
- Skin rash.
- Shortness of breath.
- Itchy red watery eyes.
- Facial pressure and pain.
- Runny and/or stuffy nose.
If you have both a pet allergy and asthma, you could experience the following symptoms in addition:
- Chest tightness.
- Awakening during the night due to difficulty breathing.
Skin symptoms of dog allergy:
- Itchy skin.
One thing you should know about dog allergy is that it can hit you suddenly.
So, you might have had your Chihuahua for quite a while, and then, out of the blue, you could start experiencing allergy symptoms.
What you’re going through could seem very confusing at first.
Not to mention the possibility of having a dog allergy combined with asthma at the same time…
That’s precisely what happened to me while I still had my Pomeranian Mini Spitz – Ejy…
I’ve lived with him for 7 years before any problems started to occur.
Then, during one winter, I started waking up abruptly, feeling out of breath. My sleep was disrupted and I was scared.
After waking up, I needed to sit or stand up for a while to regain my breath.
My breathing sounded like a symphony coming out of my lungs… It was just horrific!
These episodes repeated themselves several nights in a row. That made me realize it was high time to do something about it.
So, out of fear and responsibility for my health, I went to an allergist.
To my surprise it turned out that I had dog allergy and asthma.
The advice I received was ‘You should take an inhaler and get rid of the dog’.
I was speechless…
Even though I wanted to say ‘He’s my family, I can’t just remove him like it’s nothing’, I couldn’t. I felt as if something was stuck in my throat and my eyes filled up with tears.
After I got out of the doctor’s office, I couldn’t stop crying for 2 hours on end.
I couldn’t leave the clinic immediately so I stayed there, being an emotional wreck. One lady sitting next to me even thought that I was crying due to upcoming death in the family…
And, considering my dog was my family, the suggested outcome didn’t seem much different.
You’re probably wondering what I did in the end…
I found a way to keep Ejy. Despite my dog allergy and asthma.
Caution: An allergy that is not treated could become a life-threatening experience.
Luckily, having a dog allergy doesn’t necessarily mean you can’t have a Chihuahua. There are some ‘rules’ with which you have to comply however.
To make it easier for you, I’ve listed several…
19 tips on how to live with a dog allergy and a Chihuahua
#1: Spend a bit of time with a Chihuahua
It’s no coincidence that this step comes first.
If you do this, it will help you find out how your body reacts to this specific dog breed.
Don’t underestimate the fact that you could be fine around other dogs but not around a Chi.
To save yourself and the dog unnecessary stress, test this out.
You could ask a friend with a Chi to be your guest for a few days.
Another thing you could do is foster a Chihuahua puppy prior to adoption.
A third option is to get in contact with local dog shelters. You can volunteer to help on the spot or to take a Chi rescue and socialize them for a certain period of time.
#2: Bathe and brush your Chi regularly
Whether you have a long hair, a short hair or a teacup Chihuahua, they need maintenance.
When it comes to brushing, the long hair Chihuahua will need it the most. This means minimum 3 times a week.
The reason is that a long coat could easily get tangled. And if you don’t untangle them on time, they’ll grow bigger and need to be cut off at some point.
As to short hair and teacup Chihuahuas, it’s advisable to give them a full body brushing once a week.
All in all, the Chihuahua as a breed needs a moderate amount of grooming. So, it shouldn’t be an issue.
You also don’t have to worry about bathing your Chihuahua too often.
Tip: It’s advisable to delegate this task to a non-allergic person.
#3: Make the bedroom a Chihuahua-free zone
It’s very important to keep your Chihuahua out of the bedroom.
The sooner you establish the boundaries, the better.
By not letting your Chi in the bedroom, you’re ensuring you have an allergen-free space.
This is especially helpful during the night when you need to get a good night sleep.
Allowing your Chi to enter the bedroom could result in respiratory problems particularly during winter months.
#4: Get an air purifier with a HEPA filter
HEPA stands for high-efficiency particulate air.
The good news is that HEPA filters can be found in most air purifiers.
Research shows that children’s asthma and allergy symptoms to dogs reduced when having an air purifier with a HEPA filter in their bedroom.
HEPA filters trap pet dander which is tiny and sticky.
Note: Air purifiers with HEPA filters are more expensive but especially suitable for capturing pet allergens.
#5: Change the air filter regularly
Look at the manual of your air purifier. Then, note down at what period of time you should change the filters.
This way you’ll ensure you’re getting the needed protection.
#6: Keep the house clean
Make sure too vacuum your home once a week.
A vacuum cleaner with a water or a HEPA filter catches dust and other allergens efficiently.
You can also get a Swiffer cloth to make cleaning easy-peasy and efficient. This one can help majorly with cleaning bigger spaces in no time.
You could choose between wet and dry mops.
Speaking of wet cleaning methods, you should make sure to wash the floor once a week as well. Be it going over it with a wet Swiffer or another type of mop.
Change the bedding frequently. Then, wash the old one in hot water.
Tip: If possible, it’s best to let someone who doesn’t have an allergy do the cleaning for you. This could be a family member, a maid or a cleaning service company team.
#7: Remove dust-gathering surfaces
First, remove any carpets you might have. It’s easier and faster to clean a home with a wooden, tile or vinyl floor.
Another example of how to make the life with an allergy an a Chi easier, is to have a leather couch. So, if you have upholstery, it’s time to switch to leather.
This saves you a lot of hassle as you can simply dust it when it gets a bit dirty.
A third thing you could do is to get rid of any curtains or draperies. You could replace them with roller shades.
As a fourth suggestion, you could put plastic covers over the mattresses in your home.
Such a cover protects not only against dust mites but also against sweat and stains.
#8: Wash your hands
When we were little, we would often get told by our parents to wash our hands.
If this habit is ingrained in your mind, you’re applying it to this very day whenever you get in contact with something questionable.
Surprisingly, washing your hands could save you not only from being exposed to germs but also to allergens.
That’s the case if you’re allergic not so much to pet dander, as to mold or pollen. They could get attached to your Chi’s coat during a walk.
Caution: Wash your hands well after touching your Chi. Don’t touch your eyes or face if you haven’t washed your hands after petting your dog.
#9: Allergy shots or immunotherapy
Allergy shots, also called immunotherapy are an option for you. Consider them as a long-term treatment and solution.
Be prepared although these sort of treatments minimize allergy symptoms, they’re not able to fully eliminate them.
The aim of allergy shots (immunotherapy) is to desensitize the immune system to pet dander.
Each allergy shot contains a small dosage of a substance that triggers an allergic response in you.
This type of therapy usually lasts between 3 and 5 years.
Warning: Consult with your physician before undertaking such measures.
#10: Avoid touching other dogs
This depends on the severity of your allergy.
Remember that having a dog and taking care of the grooming is your responsibility and yours alone.
But bear in mind that other pet owners might not be as diligent as you when grooming their dogs.
There’s nothing wrong with that if the dogs are in good health.
And yet, for you it can make a difference if your skin gets in contact with dogs who are not brushed or bathed as often as yours.
Chances are that if you have a dog allergy, you will get a skin rash pretty much every time when your skin rubs into the fur of a dog.
#11: Accept a paw but not a ‘kiss’
Feeling your Chi’s love is priceless.
They can jump at you, paw at you, or even ‘kiss’ you by licking your face.
While it’s fine to ‘shake’ your dog’s paw, it’s not okay to let them lick your skin.
Especially if you want to avoid runny eyes and nose, sneezing, and swollen skin.
Note: Remember – it’s not only pet dander that causes allergic reactions. Saliva and urine also carry allergens.
#12: More outdoor time for your Chi
You could walk your Chi 3 times a day if your schedule allows it.
Or, if you have a backyard, just let your Chi roam free. If you have ensured they won’t get out on the street and end up hurt that is.
Depending on where you live, consider whether wild animals of some kind could endanger your Chi when left alone.
If there are no such threats, proceed and don’t forget to leave access to fresh water. Either put their bowl outside or let them go in and out of the house whenever they want to.
#13: Ventilate the air in your home
Opening the windows several times a day is a must. That’s how you allow the air to circulate.
#14: Ensure your Chi has high-quality food
A healthy Chi’s skin will produce less dander.
Having that in mind, you better lower the carbohydrate intake of your Chi.
Food such as kibble is rich in carbs and can lead to the production of yeast. When that happens your Chi’s skin tends to produce more dander.
That’s due to the fact that too much yeast causes flaky or itchy skin.
Also, consider grain-free food.
#15: Decrease or stop ingesting allergenic foods
Besides taking care of your Chi, you could also take care of yourself. You can do this by minimizing your ingestion of foods known to cause allergic reactions.
Such ones are dairy products.
A research conducted in Melbourne, Australia, showed that half of the tested subjects experienced worsened asthma symptoms after consuming dairy products.
According to Stephen Langer (a scientist who has extensive research on allergies and asthma) ), eliminating dairy products from your diet may relieve asthma symptoms.
But hey – if you’re used to eating dairy products, you probably aren’t keen on giving up on them. That’s understandable.
You don’t have to but what you can do is try to limit them or exclude them from your diet for a certain period of time. For example for 2 weeks or one month.
It’s always good to keep in mind that what works for one person won’t necessarily work out for you.
I personally did an experiment to quit ingesting diary products for 6 months and felt great ever since.
Previously, when I was drinking coffee with milk, I noticed my nose was blocked. And I also had a slimy substance in my throat which made me swallow a few times in a row before I felt I could breathe freely.
See how you will feel and whether there’s any difference in the intensity of your allergic reaction.
#16: Have yourself tested for allergies and food intolerance
You can do an experiment for yourself of how you feel without dairy products.
After that you can test yourself to see whether you have food sensitivity and intolerance or not. Or, you could directly opt in for this. However you prefer.
The point is to get to the bottom of what’s causing your allergic reaction.
If you haven’t done this already, a skin allergy test can definitely shed light on the subject.
#17: Use saline (salt water) rinse
When you rinse your nasal passages with saline, it washes away allergens, mucus and debris in general. Plus, it moistens the mucous membranes.
Ear throat and nose doctors, often called ENTs for short, often recommend using saline rinse.
#18: Don’t allow your Chi to go onto furniture
It’s hard to resist cuddling with your Chi on the sofa. But it’s for the best if you’re allergic.
To not feel overly-guilty because you don’t let your Chi jump on the couch, you can simply get them a dog bed.
This is how you’ll ensure they’re not missing out on the comfort of the furniture. And besides, their dog bed will be fully theirs as they won’t have to share it with other family members.
#19: Consult with your doctor and an allergist
Speak with your general practitioner and an allergist. Ask for the best way to proceed according to your health and allergy severity.