Your Kids' Next Best Friend - A List of Allergy-Friendly Pals to Consider
Deciding on the right family pet can be a tough thing to do if anyone in your household has allergies or sensitivities to animals. Which pet pal would be the best fit for your family? Continue reading our suggestions below to learn more!
The good news is that even if you are quite allergic to one pet, it is highly unlikely to be allergic to them all - according to Mitchell Grayson, M.D., an allergist in Milwaukee. A great first step would be speaking to your primary physician to see whether a skin test with an allergist might be a good idea for you. After you narrow down the culprits, this list should help you find an allergy-friendly pet that might work for most families with sensitivities.
BEST FISH PICK
BETTAS OR GOLDFISH
Friendliness: Both fish can recognize their owners
Lifespan: 4-10 years
Reason: Fish are almost a no-brainer choice in most cases since you rarely need to interact with them on a physical level. There is a tank and plenty of water between this pet and other household members - making them mesmerizing to watch without touching being involved.
Care: Provide a tank that is at least 5 gallons per fish with a good filter setup and aeration system installed. Use a lid to prevent bettas from attempting to jump out of the tank. For fish to swim around and hide - which helps the fish to be less anxious in a home with hands-on little ones, include some fish tank objects such as underwater foliage or decorations that your local pet store deems suitable for the tank and needs of the fish. Follow the instructions for keeping the tank clean and take note of dietary needs and availability at your local stores.
Downside: No cuddles with this pet pal! It's also very important to keep the tank squeaky clean to prevent the buildup of mold or mildew which can release spores into the air and then might trigger a reaction to those with mold allergies. A great way to help combat this would be aquatic plants in your tank which help both the water and the plant to be healthier!
NOTE: Bettas and goldfish should not share a tank together since they require different water conditions. Bettas do best as a single fish in one tank since they are territorial and aggressive so unless you want your kids to witness a gruesome battle that will likely result in a sad goodbye, please only keep one betta in each tank. They won't be lonely if they have you!
BEST REPTILE PICK
Friendliness: Enjoys human interaction; can be easily trained with positive reinforcement
Lifespan: 7-10 years
Reason: One of the main causes of most allergy symptoms can be attributed to dander - which isn't something that reptiles generate since they don't have the skin cells that other animals do. "And they don't have hair that can further trigger allergies," says Dr. Grayson. The bearded dragon is a kid-friendly favorite since "they are interactive with people and can be trained to enjoy touching as well," according to Susan A. Brown, D.V.M. and owner of Rosehaven Exotic Animal Veterinary Service.
Care: Needs a large tank with a heated basking area. Remove the feces from the tank on a daily basis and give the cage a thorough clean at least once per month. Diet consists of live insects, fruit and vegetables. Be sure to do research for more detailed dietary needs.
Downside: Reptiles can carry salmonella so it is important to consider this and limit interactions with children under the age of 5, women who are pregnant, elderly individuals and any other individuals who might have a compromised immune system.
NOTE: As with all animals, be sure to thoroughly wash your hands after handling.
BEST BIRD PICK