The Alaskan Malamute is a large breed of dog that can weigh up to 85 pounds. They have heavy bones and powerful muscles which are both great attributes to have in cold, harsh environments. As family pets, however, they are playful, loyal, and affectionate.
The Alaskan Malamute is not a hypoallergenic breed. They have a thick coat of fur that allows them to withstand some pretty cold temperatures. They are also prolific shedders which creates a lot of pet dander. This, of course, can trigger symptoms for those who are allergic.
If you have your heart set on this hearty sled-pulling animal but are allergic to pet dander, you will have a tough decision to make. Do you want an Alaskan Malamute more than you wish to be allergy-free? Read on for some more information on what makes these dogs not hypoallergenic and what you can do about it.
What Causes Alaskan Malamutes to not be Hypoallergenic?
Alaskan Malamutes are many things: loyal, affectionate and playful, but hypoallergenic is not one of their qualities. These dogs have a thick, luscious double coat to keep them warm, after all, they need to be able to tough it out at extreme temperatures. The undercoat feels wooly and oily to the touch and the outer coat actually stands up off of the body and is coarse to the touch. These coats shed completely twice a year. Because the Alaskan Malamute sheds so often, and releases more dander than dogs that do not shed, they cannot be considered hypoallergenic.
Alaskan Malamutes and Dander
Dander, tiny flecks of skin that fall off of an Alaskan Malamute’s body during shedding, is the main source of allergies for humans. Dander is an inevitable part of owning an Alaskan Malamute and is sometimes not even visible to the naked eye, but it is there and can cause an allergic reaction in some individuals who are triggered by that dander. Just like human skin, every time your dog shakes or moves, some skin particles are bound to fall off and be released into the living space around them.
What Makes a Dog Hypoallergenic?
For a dog to be considered hypoallergenic, it means that they are less likely to cause allergies in humans than other breeds. The root word hypo means less or fewer, so if a dog is considered to be hypoallergenic, they still may elicit some sort of reaction, but it will not be as great as a non-hypoallergenic dog. Usually, this is due to that dog not shedding as much as others.
The reason you may have an allergic reaction to a Malamute is likely because you are genetically inclined to allergies. This is something that has been passed down from one or both of your parents. Some people, through prolonged exposure to a certain allergen, can become desensitized to it. The reaction becomes less severe, but this takes time and patience and for some allergy suffers, it’s too difficult to manage. This all depends on each individual and their tolerance levels.
How Can I Tell if I am Allergic to My Alaskan Malamute? (Common Symptoms)
A pet allergy is when you experience an allergic reaction to pet dander. Dander is the tiny flakes of dead skin cells. Some individuals may also have allergic reactions to the animal proteins found in the urine and saliva of their dogs.
If you are triggered by the dander in your Alaskan Malamute, you may experience some fairly common symptoms such as sneezing, coughing, wheezing, chest tightness, itchy and watery eyes, and trouble breathing normally. In severe cases, you may experience itchy skin or a skin rash. Some others may even feel facial pain as a result of the nasal congestion that is triggered.
Some people may experience more extreme reactions than others. Asthma-like symptoms, such as shortness of breath and wheezing may result. If you have any of these symptoms, and you did not have them before you brought home your Alaskan Malamute, this is a good indication that you are allergic. There are medications that can treat and manage these symptoms and there are certain dog breeds that are hypoallergenic and shed much less than the Alaskan Malamute.
How to Avoid Allergies from Being Triggered by Alaskan Malamutes
Frequently bathing your Alaskan Malamute can be helpful in reducing the amount of dander your dog sheds. It is important to be careful to not bathe them too much, as this may strip them of natural oils from their skin which can unbalance their skin and lead to issues such as itchy skin. Regularly cleaning and thoroughly vacuuming can also aid in keeping dog dander to a minimum. Using allergy medications, even shots, may also be effective in treating the issue.
Doing these things can help keep allergic reactions under control, but most people have a trigger level. That is to say, that there are acceptable levels of allergens in the air before they have a reaction. This will vary by the individual so it is up to the owners of the Alaskan Malamute to determine their own comfort level. Unfortunately, some people have no acceptable level at which they are comfortable. For these people, they have a choice to make: get an Alaskan Malamute and suffer the consequences or choose a more hypoallergenic dog breed.
What Should I Do to Treat an Allergic Reaction Caused by My Alaskan Malamute?
Allergies are caused by a reaction to a foreign substance in the body. Sometimes this is caused by mold. For other people, this is caused by pollen and pet dander. For some people, all of these things can trigger an allergic reaction. This is the immune system’s attempt to expel the foreign substance from your body and protect you from sickness and infection. Inhaling pet dander can produce this immune system response in the respiratory system. Ongoing exposure to this dander could eventually lead to asthma or the chronic inflammation of the airway.
To treat a reaction caused by your pup, medications and over the counter treatments are available. For nasal congestion, steroid nasal sprays are available. For optical allergic reactions, antihistamine eye drops can be effective and for asthma or respiratory reactions, inhaled corticosteroids or bronchodilators may be an option to relieve or prevent symptoms. Allergy shots are proven to be effective in possibly reducing or eliminating symptoms over a series of treatments.
Tips on How to Live With an Alaskan Malamute and Allergies
Along with medications and cleaning the dog and your house, there are other precautions that you can take.
As tough as it may be, you can try to keep petting and coming into contact with your Alaskan Malamute to a minimum. If you do give in, always wash your hands afterward. Giving your pup access to only a few rooms in the house may also help to ensure that you have less to clean thoroughly and that you have “safe areas” to go to so you can be free of the dander for some relief. Allergy air purifiers in your home may be another option to provide you with some dander-free airflow in your house. Brushing your pup daily may also help to free some of that dander out of their coat.
You can also purchase hypoallergenic furniture covers and bedding. This helps limit the amount of dander that can land on fabric surfaces when they are dispersed into the air.
Using a vacuum cleaner with a HEPA filter is also advised. HEPA stands for high-efficiency particulate air. It is a mechanical filter that contains a fine mesh to filter out dander, dust, and pollen. This helps keep the air in your house free of your Alaskan Malamute’s dander. Frequent washing of bedding and furniture coverings will also help to limit the amount of dander in the home. Removing carpet from your home may also work wonders as dander can get built up in carpeted areas.
Don’t Make Your Alaskan Malamute an Outdoor Dog
First and foremost, unless you reside in the tundra, your Alaskan Malamute is most likely too warm no matter where they are and keeping him or her outside is cruel. A dog allergy is no excuse to make your pup an outdoor dog, where he or she is exposed to harsh elements and is deprived of proper shelter. Your dog is a member of the family so it only makes sense that they should have access to your home. There are many options to help alleviate dander and symptoms to provide a comfortable living situation for both you and your Alaskan Malamute.
What Can Hypoallergenic Families Do to Help with Allergic Reactions?
There are some things families can do to control and manage the symptoms triggered by pet dander allergies. It is important to always remember that it is not the dog’s hair that causes the allergies, it is the shedding skin or dander that causes people to have reactions. Getting this dander under control will help your family members who may be allergic.
Bathing your pup with a gentle shampoo that does not strip natural oils is beneficial. Shampoo helps to lift the dander from your pet’s skin, but rinsing is what removes the dander, so do not be scared of water. Be generous with it and rinse and then rinse again.
If your family member has a severe reaction and there is concern about possible anaphylaxis (a life-threatening allergic reaction), call 911 right away. Having an auto-injectable device, like an EpiPen, on hand for people prone to severe allergic reactions may help in this situation. Be sure to keep the person calm until the ambulance arrives. This is an extreme case, of course, and most allergic reactions are not severe. The goal here is to have a happy medium and living conditions for you, your family, and your Alaskan Malamute.