to Pet Health Network or

Answers from vets about your pet:

May Is National Allergy Month: Alternative Pets for Allergic Owners

Posted December 20, 2014 in Small Animal Health & Care

Dr. Laurie Hess is our resident exotics expert and contributes regularly on the Pet Health Network. For more from Dr. Hess, find her on Facebook!

Achoo! What to do? You want a pet, but you’re allergic. So, what can you do? Get an exotic pet, of course! If you’re allergic, don’t despair. There are still terrific pets available that are allergy friendly. Here are just a few:

1. Reptiles
If you’re allergic to fur and feathers, you can always resort to scales. Snakes, turtles, tortoises, and lizards of all kinds – all of these pets are non-allergenic but still offer a great deal of fun. Large and small, legged (lizards, turtles, tortoises) or legless (snakes), nocturnal or diurnal (active at night vs. during the day), carnivores or herbivores (meat vs. vegetable eaters), there are so many factors to consider if you’re planning on a reptile. With vibrant colors and varying body types, reptiles are fascinating to look at. What if you want a pet that’s responsive to you? Reptiles are still a great choice. As any reptile owner would tell you, reptiles know their owners – they respond to both their voices and their sight. They are responsive to handling and definitely appear more relaxed in their owners’ hands than in those of a stranger. When cared for properly, with the correct nutrition and environment, many reptiles can live very long lives (some turtles and tortoises can live more than 50 years!). So no need to worry if you’re allergic; there’s a reptile out there that’s just right for you.

2. Birds
Many people who are allergic to fur are not necessarily allergic to feathers. Note, however, that some species (African gray parrots, cockatoos, and cockatiels) have a powdery white substance (powder down) on their beaks and feathers that can be allergenic to some people. But, if you don’t find yourself sneezing around birds as you do when you encounter a furry creature, then a bird might be right for you. Just as there are a variety of sizes, shapes, and colors of reptiles, the same is true for birds. You can choose from small birds that can entertain you with their singing (i.e. canaries) to large birds that can amuse you with their talking (African gray parrots and Amazon parrots). Some birds are known to be cuddly (cockatoos) while others are notorious for clowning around (caiques). Smaller birds

Share This Article

Laurie has more than 15 years of experience in the veterinary industry and is a board-certified bird specialist and exotic animal veterinarian as well as a founding member of IDEXX’s Pet Health Network team.