Tips for the Obamas on dogs and allergies
Can the Obamas really have it all – a shelter puppy that’s cute and cuddly but won’t irritate their daughter Malia’s allergies?
It’s possible, if the new First Family does its homework and takes a few precautions. But they'll have plenty of time -- at least two months.
Sunday, on CBS' "60 Minutes," President-elect Barack Obama and his wife Michelle said they won't be getting a new pet until they move into the White House in January. Their daughters, Malia and Sasha, would prefer not to wait.
"They're ready for us to get a dog now," Michelle Obama said.
It's OK to wait. The better to learn a few things about dogs and allergies.
First, they should know that that there’s no such thing as a hypoallergenic dog. But it’s possible to find a dog – even a mixed breed – that produces less dander and might find a happy home in the White House.
Also, it’s not just dander. Dogs produce a protein in their saliva and urine that produces an allergic reaction in some people, said Nancy Peterson, a spokeswoman for the Humane Society of the United States who has experienced allergy problems in the past.
“I’d avoid breeds or individual dogs that tend to have skin problems, because then they’re scratching and there’s dander flying and sticking to walls and drapes,” Peterson said. “If you see a dog that’s licking a lot, that’s saliva (being produced).
“If anything, I’d go for a smaller dog because it has less skin,” and therefore may produce less dander.
Other things the Obamas can do: eliminate some curtains and drapes where sticky skin cells are likely to cling; have carpets, their pet’s bedding and anything else the dog might come in contact with cleaned frequently. The bedrooms where the Obama girls sleep should also be a dog-free zone.
There are more tips about pets and allergies on the Humane Society’s Web site.