Finding a pet that doesn’t trigger allergies must be a challenge…
Many people suggest getting a ferret as they are widely considered to be hypoallergenic. This subject, however, is not as cut-and-dried as we may want it to be.
Let’s face it; the closest you can get to a hypoallergenic animal is the reptile, and even then, there is a chance to trigger allergies. Ferrets are mammals, and, naturally, they do cause allergic reactions in some people.
Luckily, they do have one benefit for you, allergic pet parents:
- They shed less dander. Unlike most cat and dog breeds, ferrets do not shed as many skin flakes. If you are worried about dander-related allergies, you can be certain that you’d have an easier time managing a ferret.
The problem is that an allergy is not caused by the dander itself. The proteins in an animal’s saliva and urine are usually to blame. When ferrets clean themselves, they leave their saliva on their coat. As they change coats and as allergic people come in contact with shed hair and dander, the saliva causes irritations.
Before Adopting a Dooker
There’s nothing worse than having to re-home a pet you’ve just taken in because you find out you are allergic to them. This is quite stressful for the ferret, and I can’t imagine parting with them will be very fun for you, either.
That is why I advise you to test yourself before deciding.
- Go to a pet shelter or a shop, play with a few ferrets.
- Learn about the specifics of your allergies.
- Speak to an allergist about what concerns you. Ask them if there is a way for you to be tested to see how well you cope with the proteins you’d be in contact with.
Even if you find you are allergic to ferrets, you do not need to give up on getting a dooker. Many pet owners are allergic to their own pets, but with proper management and medication, the allergies can be kept at bay.
Here are a few things you can do to soften your allergic reactions:
If possible, keep your ferrets outdoors.
This is your best option. This way, you’ll have almost nothing in your home to trigger your allergies. Keep in mind that you may bring allergens inside on the bottoms of your shoes or on your clothes and hair.
Keep some rooms off-limits for your furry friends.
After getting a ferret, make sure he or she can’t go to every room. You’d like to have at least your bedroom be off-limits. Then, you can have an allergen-free space along with irritation-free night sleep.
Keeping the House Clean
Some general advice on how to make sure there are fewer allergens left in your abode:
Limit the number of carpets and other fabrics in your home.
When your dookers shed, their hair and dander can get stuck between the fibers of any fabric. It’d be best if you have easy-to-clean surfaces so irritations can be avoided.
Speaking of cleaning…
Clean. Clean! CLEAN!
Make sure your ferrets’ enclosure is clean. Change and clean their bedding, clean their litter box, and, of course, do clean after they play. This will make both you and your fur-balls healthier. When ferrets are kept healthy, they shed less; when they are ill, they shed even more.
Consider getting an air purifier.
This handy machine’s purpose is to clean your air. Make sure it’s equipped with a HEPA filter, which will collect even the smallest particles.
Maintain good personal hygiene.
Wash your hands after playing with your pets and avoid touching your face. In addition, you may want to have a pair of clothes you wear only while playing with your dookers. Make sure the clothes are easy to clean and don’t wear them outside of playtime.
Making the Ferrets More Hypoallergenic
Do not get more than 2 ferrets.
Don’t introduce additional shedding. On top of that, the ferrets may happen to change their coats at slightly different times. Don’t expose yourself to allergens longer than needed.
Brush them regularly.
If you can, brush your ferrets often. This will guarantee less hair and skin flakes spread throughout your home. If this too triggers your allergy, have somebody else do it.
Bathe them at least once a week.
Make sure you are using a shampoo that won’t dry the ferrets’ skins. If you don’t, you may find yourself amplifying the issue. Their bodies will begin oiling, even more, to compensate, exposing you to more proteins.
Neutering is an option.
Many ferrets shed due to hormonal changes during their mating season. Getting this procedure done (or adopting already neutered ferrets) could save you a lot of trouble.
Some More Facts and Misconceptions
Short hair = hypoallergenic.
False. The length of fur hardly affects whether an animal can trigger allergies. The amount of shedding in a specific breed or species is a much better way to determine if you’ll have any issues.
Different breeds affect different people differently.
True. Just because a ferret may elicit an allergic reaction from someone with allergies similar to yours does not mean you’d get the same reaction. Your body is unique, so do get a medical test for your specific triggers.
People who are allergic to one ferret are sure to be allergic to all ferrets.
False. Breed matters. Some ferrets may produce more of the proteins you are allergic to; others may produce less.
Male ferrets cause more allergic reactions than their female counterparts.
True. Research shows that female ferrets produce less of the chemicals the majority of people are allergic to.
An animal owner can’t suddenly become allergic to their pets.
Sadly, false. Such cases have been documented in the past. Be aware that getting a pet early in life decreases the chances of developing an allergy to that specific breed later on.
Ferrets shed all year round.
False. Ferrets shed twice a year at most: once in spring, preparing for summer, and once in fall, preparing for winter. If your pet is losing more hair or even whole patches of fur, get them to the vet immediately.
To round things off…
Though ferrets are not the hypoallergenic dream pet we all wish they were, there is no reason to give up. Take a couple of them in! With proper hygiene and care (for both yourself and your dookers) you can live, play and sleep together with little to no trouble.