With their big ears, bulging eyes and tiny heads, Chihuahuas are one of the most popular toy-sized dogs in America. A long-held belief for many people is that owning a Chihuahua can affect--and possibly cure--a person with asthma. Courageous, lively, loyal and adventurous, these small pups might make great pets, but for some owners, they can cause health problems, just like any other dog breed.
Asthma and Pets
Asthma is a lung condition that causes difficulty breathing, and a pet's dead skin flakes, feces, saliva, urine and hair can all trigger an asthma attack, according to the Environmental Protection Agency. Because many people are allergic to proteins in the saliva, dander or urine of animals, simply being near certain animals can increase the risk of asthma.
Chihuahuas are small dogs, usually weighing no more than 6 lbs., that make good companions because of their fierce loyalty to their owners and their sharp intelligence. According to their profile with American Kennel Club, Chihuahuas can be any color and their coats may be either long or short. These sassy little dogs have gained a reputation as purse dogs, thanks to owners such as Paris Hilton and the movie “Legally Blonde” starring Reese Witherspoon.
Although it is a common belief, there is no scientific evidence proving that Chihuahuas are good pets for people with pet allergies or asthma, according to Snopes.com. People with allergies are typically allergic to a dog’s dander and discarded hair, and people with such allergies do best with dogs that are low-shedding breeds, such as toy poodles. Since Chihuahuas are medium shedders, they might not be the best match for people with allergies or asthma.
Each case is individual. If you have allergies or suffer from asthma but have your heart set on owning a Chihuahua, the best course of action is to spend time around a Chihuahua before buying or adopting one. Credible Chihuahua breeders will be glad to let you spend time with a litter so you can determine whether owning a Chihuahua will affect you. Many people with dog allergies also take regular allergy medicines, such as Claritan, that allow them to live unaffected by their pets.
The EPA recommends that the most effective way to control animal allergens is to not allow animals in your home. Once an animal is removed from your home, it is important to thoroughly clean your home, especially carpets and upholstered furniture. Pet allergen levels can stay in a home for several months after the pet has been removed even after cleaning. Since Chihuahuas are not bred to be outside dogs, it is best to find it another home if you discover your small pet triggers your allergies or asthma. For those who love their Chihuahua too much to find it a new home, you can try isolating him to only one area of the home or ensuring that people with allergies or asthma stay away from the animal. According to the EPA’s website, several reports “indicate that animal allergen is carried in the air and by residents of the home on their clothing to all parts of the home, even when the animal is isolated. In fact, animal allergen is often detected in locations where no animals were housed.”