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Allergic to Yorkie

Allergic to a Yorkshire Terrier


While the majority of sources will claim that Yorkies are hypoallergenic, it is actually a fact that a person can indeed be allergic to a Yorkshire Terrier. The main reason that this breed has been classified as a low or non-allergy causing dog is due to the coat consisting of hair opposed to fur. However, both dogs with hair and those with fur have naturally occurring dander. And this is one of the elements that someone can be allergic to. In addition, many people are allergic to a dog's saliva (and urine) due to proteins contained within it. And this, of course, is present with all dogs breeds.

This said, even if you are allergic to your Yorkshire Terrier, there are varying levels of reactions and there are some steps that symptoms of a true allergic reaction and steps you can take to reduce the triggers and treat the allergy.
How You Can Be Allergic to a Yorkshire Terrier

It really all comes down to proteins. Certain proteins that some humans are sensitive to are produced by all dogs. These naturally are found in a dog's dander, saliva and urine. All dogs, regardless of there classification of having hair or fur, have dander. Dander is very tiny (and often microscopic) flakes of dead skin. There is no method of stopping the formation of dander; it is a natural part of how the body renews itself; as new skin generates, old skin dies off, resulting in these tiny flakes that end up in the coat. Dog breeds with full, thick (and sometimes double) coats produce a lot of dander, thus often causing more allergic reactions. Breeds such as the Yorkshire Terrier, which has just one single layer of fine hair and being such a tiny dog, produce less allergy-causing dander. So, in reality, Yorkies are not hypoallergenic, they just produce much less of the trigger that some people are sensitive to.

Yet, the other elements of protein being found in both a dog's saliva and urine can pose issues as well. In fact, the National Center for Biotechnology ran a study to compare allergy inducing dander to saliva. Using a variety of dog breeds and 59 patients, canine saliva contained more binding proteins and people that tested negative to allergies to dog dander tested positive to canine saliva. Therefore, even if a Yorkie's coat is not the cause of allergies, his saliva can be. 
The allergy inducing saliva ,dander and urine can affect a person in a several different ways:
  • You get an allergic reaction when the Yorkie licks you; you may develop itchy hives or a rash, with or without other symptoms. 
  • Saliva ends up on the Yorkie's coat through natural licking and cleaning that dogs do. Urine can back-splash onto the coat, as well. This in turn can cause a reaction when you pet the dog, regardless of dander.
  • Everything that the dog mouths will have some level of saliva on it. This can be transferred to humans when they pick up those objects
  • Both urine and saliva can be transferred to a dog's coat, and therefore ending up on furniture, flooring and all places that the dog sits, rests and sleeps
Signs and Symptoms of Being Allergic to a Yorkie

It should be noted that dogs like the Yorkshire Terrier that produce less allergy-causing dander than other breeds can cause a person to not show any signs of being allergic for days. There is a more gradual buildup of triggers. So, you may be just fine for 1 to 3 days, and only start to have clinical signs of allergies once you are exposed to the dog for a longer period of time. This is one element that throws off new owners. They touch and pick up a new Yorkie puppy to see if they are allergic, feel that everything is fine and then only realize that they are indeed allergic once the pup has been in the house for several days. 

The most common signs include one or more of the following:
  • Itchy sinuses
  • Itchy eyes
  • Breathing issues - coughing, shortness of breath, congestion and/or wheezing
  • Rash or hives - This may be anywhere on the body, but is more common in areas in which the Yorkie has licked you
  • Sneezing
What to Do if You're Allergic to Your Yorkie

1. Get Tested. The first thing that you'll want to do, is to confirm that you are indeed having an allergic response to your dog. In some cases, a person can be having a sensitivity to dust mites, pollen or other substances that happen to coincide with dog ownership.  There are two types of testing that can be done, skin testing or a blood test (known as RAST). You will be exposed to both canine dander and other common allergens to pinpoint the exact triggers(s) that are causing problems. 

Many doctors will then suggest removing the dog from the house, however this is not a viable option for most people, unless the allergy is severe.  While it can be tricky, there are some steps you can take to be able to keep your Yorkie, even if you are allergic:
2. Consistently remove allergens. The tricky thing about being allergic to a Yorkie (or any other dog) is that the allergens are microscopic in size and will travel through the air to just about all parts of the house as well as settle deep into carpets and other fabric. So, cleaning the house and doing so in an effective way will need to be done on a regular basis. One of the most important elements will be to vacuum flooring (even hardwood floors), furniture and drapes with a HEPA certified vacuum cleaner.  If you have carpeting, a HEPA vacuum specifically for pet hairs will be beneficial, as these have extremely strong suction to pull out hairs that end up weaved into carpet. Importantly, using a HEPA tool will not only pick up allergens from the floor other other areas that you are cleaning, but also from the air itself as flows through the machine. 

We really like the Hoover WindTunnel 3 Pro Pet Bagless Upright Vacuum. It has incredibly strong suction and its HEPA filter traps 99.97% of dirt, dust, and allergens down to 0.3 microns. It is specifically for pet-households with a pet turbo tool for furniture and stairs, pet upholstery tool, a telescopic extension wand that reaches up to 12 feet and a crevice tool. 
Vacuum the entire house: floors, furniture, curtains as often as once per day and at least once per week. 

You can also help remove pet dander by running an AC or centralized air unit fan with HEPA filter with a FPR (Filter Performance Rating) of at least 10; one below this number do NOT pick up pet dander. In addition, you will want to wet-dust the home at least 1 time per week and wash bedding, toss pillows and other machine washable items as often as you can, at least twice per month. 

3. Bath the Yorkie every 2 weeks. Normally, a bath every 3 weeks is recommended, however if you are allergic to a Yorkshire Terrier, bathing the dog every 2 weeks will work towards removing accumulated dander more often. While it may be tempting to give baths even more often than this, even with high-quality shampoo, over-bathing can lead to dry skin issues. 

4. Restrict access to your bedroom. While a certain amount of allergens will still be airborne, thus making their way into your bedroom, the place where you probably spend at least 8 hours per day, it still helps to restrict a dog from entering the room.

5. All household members should routinely wash their hands. Remember, you are not just removing visible hairs, this removes microscopic allergens that can be transferred all over the house as people pick and use things. Wash with warm water and soap for as long as it takes you to say the alphabet. 

6. Consider allergy shots (immunotherapy). This works by helping a person gradually build up a tolerance. You are given a small shot of the allergen once to twice per week for several months. During this transitionary phase, it is best to have the dog kept segregated (inside a canine playpen or in a gated off area). This has been proven to eradicate pet allergies entirely for 80% of people, if they stay with it for the full course. 

7. Speak to your doctor about allergy medication. Antihistamines such as loratadine (Claritin), which does not typically cause drowsiness may be purchased over-the-counter, however if your allergies to your Yorkie are severe, a prescribed medication may be best. 
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