In spite of help from the entire world, the United States’ soon-to-be First Family’s quest for a hypoallergenic dog may best be settled in educated compromise because all dogs emit allergens, to one extent or the other.  Perhaps the best approach for President-elect Barack Obama and his family is to focus the hunt on just the short-haired breeds that shed the least.  And once that pooch has found a new home, there are some simple tips the First Family can incorporate to make sure the air in the White House is allergen clear and easy to breath for all members of the family.

The part of the dog we become allergic to is a protein found in the dog’s dander, a mixture of shedded protein-rich skin and hair.  There’s even some of the same protein in a dog’s saliva and urine.  Dog owners in public places, such as schools, parks, and shopping malls, spread the allergen from their hair and clothing, too.  While it’s possible to find a dog with little or almost no hair or one that sheds much less than others, it’s impossible to find one entirely free of the allergy-triggering protein.

To minimize exposure to dog allergens, choose small dogs over big ones.  Choose short hair over long.  Choose one that won’t shed seasonally instead of one that will.

Even shaggy dogs like poodles are better choices than others where allergies are concerned.  Dogs such as poodles that maintain their coat all year long do so because they shed less.  Choose one of these breeds or one of the increasingly popular poodle mixes, most often identifiable by the “-oodle” suffix in the breed name.

Start allergy-proofing the home even before the dog has been identified.  Get started here:

  • Designate a dog-friendly area of the house, away from bedrooms, where an allergic child spends most of his or her time.
  • Install double-bagged HEPA air filters, especially in bedrooms, and keep them running all day, every day.
  • Replace carpets and heavy rugs with easier-to-clean floors with solid surfaces.
  • Tell your allergist or pediatrician that there’ll soon be a dog in the family and discuss potential strategies that might make the doggie adoption more pleasant.

Once the search narrows to a particular breed, try to spend the weekend with someone who has this breed.  Spend time where the dander from this particular breed has infiltrated the residence and gauge allergic response over the course of time.  A few quick visits to a pet store or pound to select a dog may not produce enough allergen to provoke a reaction but a sleep-over most likely will.

Once the dog is happily settled in its new home, remember to vacuum often and confine the dog to designated doggie rooms only.  Keep the dog out of all bedrooms.  Bathe and groom the dog at least once a week.  Incorporate all these tips to keep a home as free of dog dander as possible.

Cat lovers can do the same things to reduce the cat dander in their homes, making the air easier to breath for allergy-prone family and friends.