Nothing is cuter than a puppy or a kitten unless they make you cough, sneeze and break out in a rash.
About 10 to 15 percent of the U.S. population have pet allergies, and unfortunately, there is no cure.
Most of us aren't willing to give up our four-legged friends, but we often give in to many of the marketing myths which claim to eliminate or reduce pet allergies.
Our pets are friendly, fluffy pals, but for many, the fur on these hairy animals is often thought to be the source for causing allergies.
This is not true according to Donna Warren, a veterinarian at LakeCross Veterinary Hospital in Huntersville, NC.
"Huge myth, hair is actually too big to be allergic," said Warren.
The big allergy problem is actually a protein found in your pet's dead skin, also known as dander, as well as their saliva and what's left behind in the litter box.
All of which are allergens you can't get away from, but people will spend hundreds of dollars trying to do just that.
"So far, there hasn't been a saliva-less cat or a dander-less cat," said Dr. Maeve O'Connor with Carolina Asthma and Allergy Center in Charlotte, NC.
While that may be true, for about $1,500 you can purchase a Sphynx which is a rare breed of cat without a coat.
"There's no hair balls, no flying fuzz," says Jennifer West who breeds Sphynx.
The Sphinx may be free of fur, but they still produce allergens on their skin and saliva.
Still, these coatless cats can help some allergy sufferers because there is no hair to shed all over your house.
"Unfortunately, there really is not a hypoallergenic cat or dog," said O'Connor.
According to both veterinarians and allergists, that specialty-bred hypoallergenic pet that you paid hundreds of dollars for is a lot of hype because there is no scientific evidence that any one breed of dog is less allergenic than another.
The only helpful difference is that hypoallergenics shed less, thereby spreading less allergen-aggravating dander around.
So, where should allergy suffers turn? Well, you can and should regularly soap up your animal, even the hairless variety, to reduce the amount of dander.
To reduce your exposure to dander, experts recommend keeping your pet outside your bedroom. This could be a little emotionally difficult for some pet owners.
"It would be like finding out you can't sleep with your spouse anymore," Warren says.
Veterinarians say cuddling up with your cat or dog under the covers, is six to eight hours of sniffing in that allergen while you're snoozing.
Your best shot at conquering a pet allergy is with medication called desensitization immunotherapy. These allergy shots last between three to five years, and they essentially re-train your immune system to inhale with ease.
While the treatment is not a cure, doctors say its about 80 to 90 percent effective in lessening allergic responses to animals.
So, there is hope for watery-eyed pet owners and lovers everywhere either with the aid of medication, or with a hairless cat which may be worth it when a pet is part of your family.
If you're constantly vacuuming up pet hair, make sure you are using a High Efficiency Particulate Air (HEPA) filter. These help filter small particles like dander.
Some veterinarians told us people with very bad symptoms will sometimes vacuum their pet, but we don't recommend trying that with cats!
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