WHAT DOES HYPOALLERGENIC REALLY MEAN?

For years I’ve heard it and for years I’ve said it: “they’re Goldendoodles – they don’t shed, they’re hypoallergenic” Now I’m trying to find out what does hypoallergenic really mean?

Last year as Marshall and Mason were getting acquainted with my boys, their father walked over to introduce himself. His expression was a bit puzzling to me, so I reassured him that Harley nor Leo had ever eaten a child before!

DSCN1129

Giving me a forced smile mixed with a look of “this lady’s crazy” he explained it was Marshall’s allergies that he was concerned about.

I rapidly went into the whole “these are Goldendoodles – their hypoallergenic” infomercial, complete with the animated arms mimicking flying fur in the air, etc…

I must have spoken with some degree of authority because he relaxed, allowed them to continue playing, and even regurgitated my “dissertation” to his wife once she joined us on the lawn.

Several days later – Marshall’s mom told us Marshall showed no allergic symptoms that evening or when he woke the following morning. “Great!” I exclaimed, “they can play together!” 

DSCN4317

Earlier this year the family started casually mentioning the possibility of becoming pet parents. By the end of the school year, it was becoming a frequent discussion geared more towards general questions about dogs, vets, socialization, etc.

This past month we’ve had weekly conversations about breeds, size, and the best season (for them) to bring a dog home.

Their approach to this process has been a joy to watch. They’re including their sons – talking about “family commitment,” as well as teaching “strategic planning” vs. “instant gratification” to prevent failure and ensure success. Did I mention these parents are both “educators?” #goteachers

Since “puppies” are monopolizing most of their family conversations this summer, almost everyday the children ask to walk Harley with me. Fully committed, for more than a month now, they’ve been dressed and ready morning and night…

I was speechless last week, when Harley pooped, and both Marshall and Mason shouted they were ready to “scoop the poop” Did I let them? You betcha…

DSCN4375

Here’s where it got confusing for me. Marshall and Harley are so chummy now – they’ve added a licking ritual to their greeting…

mandh

And guess what? When this occurs, Marshall has an allergic reaction. His face breaks out in a red rash, his eyes are itchy, and he’s uncomfortable. “Oh no” is right!

But Harley’s hypoallergenic, I thought. Yes he is – but “what in the doodle” does that actually mean?

According to the Mayo Clinic: There’s no such thing as a hypoallergenic dog breed, although some individual dogs may cause fewer allergy symptoms than others.

Many people think that pet allergies are caused by a dog’s or cat’s fur, but the real source of pet allergies is often a protein that’s in the saliva and urine of dogs and cats. This protein sticks to the dead, dried flakes (dander) from your pet’s skin.

I honestly had no idea! I never really researched this because no one in my immediate family suffers from allergies.

So what “exactly” does hypoallergenic mean when you’re talking about pets?

Screen-Shot-2014-08-07-at-6.49.01-PM

So there’s the magic words:

 “less likely” 

Marshalls parents have noticed when he and Harley play, there’s no problem. It only seems to become a problem AFTER their “licking ritual.” Apparently it’s his saliva. I’m now trying to teach Harley to give a “high-five.”

I found a great article on Hypoallergenic Dog Breeds written by Jenna Stregowski. Going forward I plan to change my infomercial, I’ll just quote Jenna:

“No dog is 100% non-allergenic, but some dogs are basically low-allergy.”

My reasons why I searched for Harley was not because of allergen concerns. The Goldendoodle was the pawfect match for my our lifestyle, and our personalities, and they were so dog-gone cute 🙂 Both Mason and Marshall want “a dog like Harley” and their parents seem to gravitate towards a poodle mix of some sort because of the allergen concerns. It will not surprise me by the Spring of 2015 to see Harley playing with his new furry furrend from next door. Not sure what he will look like or who his parents will be, but here’s three things I can pawmise you:

  1. He’ll be low-allergy
  2. He’ll be well taken care of
  3. He’ll be loved

Is your pet hypoallergenic? Did you “really” understand its true meaning?

Have a great weekend, and remember to be kind to someone. It will make you happy! Trust me…

12 Comments
  • DashLilly
    August 8, 2014

    What a wonderful and interesting post! This is something I think about a lot too. I actually did get Dash and then Lilly because I am allergic to cats and dogs (but only since I turned 40..oh joy) However, a friend of mine took care of the doodles for a weekend and broke out on her face (how great, she was doing me a favor and she ended up splotchy). Her doc said it was the dog food in the saliva. Hmm…. and I admit that some mornings, if Lilly has been sleeping right on top of me… my eyes are itchy!! The breeder where I got Dash and Lilly is really on top of these questions and she too uses the language “mostly” when describing. I am so glad your neighbors are thinking about a dog! Harley will be such a good big friend.

    • Cathy Bennett
      August 8, 2014

      Deirdre, I honestly never really knew the “true” meaning of the word – “hypoallergenic” because I really didn’t have to know. I am so happy I know now so I can be more specific when approached (which occurs often). I certainly never remember hearing the connection to the allergens and saliva. Love learning new things. Have a great weekend, do something fun with Dash & Lilly!

  • Auntie Ann
    August 8, 2014

    Love the information. I didn’t have a clue to any of the things you wrote about. I am not a pet owner yet, but I have some good information to think about when I decide to become one. The pictures are great!

    • Cathy Bennett
      August 8, 2014

      Thanks Auntie Ann, Harley might have mixed emotions if you ever decided to let another dog close to your heart. You know he believes he holds that spot now and FURever 🙂

  • Emma
    August 8, 2014

    Mom has had allergies her entire life. She has a cat allergy but has had a cat since she was 7. She knows if cat fur gets too near her eyes it will be a problem, but she deals with it. Dogs haven’t been much of an issue. Katie the Kuvasz is supposedly hypoallergenic, as their fur is not normal dog fur, but we have never had anyone to test it on. Hope the little boys can get their own puppy even with the lick reaction problem.

    • Cathy Bennett
      August 8, 2014

      Emma, I really think the little boys will in fact get their own puppy soon. It’s something that the entire family would like to experience, so hopefully in time they will find the perfect pet to add to their terrific family.

  • slimdoggy
    August 8, 2014

    This is exactly what happens to me. I get a rash from the saliva of dogs. When I’m training Jack, a wear rubber gloves or else my hands get all read and itchy. It goes away pretty quick and if you wash it off immediately it helps. Be aware though, that I can get the rash from Jack’s paws too. If he’s the least bit hot or sweaty and he touches me with his paw…same thing. Hope this doesn’t stop them from getting a pet – it’s totally workable…at least for me – mine isn’t that severe anymore.

    • Cathy Bennett
      August 9, 2014

      When researching this post Slim, I never even read about the paws. Great tip – I will be sure to pass it on. I believe a pup is evident for this family, and any dog that lives with this family will be blessed beyond measure. It’s a plus for us, Harley gets a playmate right next door too 🙂 WOOF WOOF / WIN WIN

  • Pamela
    August 10, 2014

    I’m so glad to see you discussing this. Because allergies are one of the reasons people give for giving up a dog.

    Depending on the person, allergies can be managed if you understand the triggers. And observing Marshall having issues with dog kisses is a good lesson for the family.

    My sister is allergic to cats. And she lives with one. As long as she doesn’t touch her eyes after petting him or let him sleep in their bedroom, she manages pretty well.

    I hope your friends have a wonderful future with pets. And they’re lucky to have a smart friend willing to share poop scooping duties to make sure everyone is really ready.

    What a tremendous sacrifice. 🙂

    • Cathy Bennett
      August 11, 2014

      Thanks Pamela – Since doodles are a part of my life and I was unclear, it only made sense once I realized how confused and misinformed I was – that I share it with others. I am happy to say, not only does this family read the blog, they paid particular attention to the other comments, looked at a few websites, became more informed and they are still moving forward with adding a four legged dependent to their family unit 🙂

  • Tiffany
    August 12, 2014

    Thanks for sharing that post. I had no idea. I was totally confused and misinformed as well.

    • Cathy Bennett
      August 12, 2014

      I know – right? Now at least we can answer these questions correctly for now on…

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *