Q: I am allergic to basically anything that sheds (cats,dogs,horses,etc.) I just get itchy eyes, itchy throat, and congested, almost like a cold. I have wanted a ferret for many years now and i just found out that they are supposedly hypoallergenic. I also know that there are different types of ferrets with different fur types. I was wondering if one type of ferret is more likely to cause allergies or not?
Their fur and dander are a bit different to that of a cat and dog, and don’t trigger allergies the same. But it’s not usually the fur that’s the problem. It’s the protein in the saliva that most people react to if you are having respiratory issues.
People CAN be allergic to ferrets, though, and some can have severe allergies. And it’s not unheard of for people with allergies to cats and/or dogs to be allergic to ferrets- it’s possible. I have some friends who are allergic to cats, but who are fine with my ferrets.
They can even sleep in the same room as them and not have an allergic reaction. Every person is different, though, so it would be best to take your boyfriend with you to the pet store/rescue shelter and let him handle a ferret to make sure he doesn’t have a reaction.
How to Tell If I’m Allergic to Ferrets?
Find someone who owns a ferret, a ferret shelter, or a pet store with ferrets and play with them. If you find ferrets that aren’t at a pet store, then smell their fur too and see if you have a reaction to them. (Pet store ferrets are pretty gross… don’t smell them! LOL) That is the BEST way to make sure she won’t have a reaction, and then you won’t get a ferret and be stuck with them.
Allergic symptoms would likely include symptoms of allergic rhinitis, allergic conjunctivitis and asthma. Some people have reported skin itching and rashes, such as urticaria, where the ferret touched their skin.
Hypoallergenic Ferret Foods
While ferrets are hypoallergenic already, feeding them the right diet can reduce shedding even further, completely eliminating the allergy factor.
James Wellbeloved Ferret complete ferret food is a naturally healthy, hypoallergenic feed suitable for all ages and sizes. Vitalin Ferret food has been carefully formulated as a nutritionally complete and balanced recipe for ferrets to provide all the nutrients required for a happy and healthy life.
Whole Prey: Whole prey is obviously the best diet your ferret can be on. It is no coincidence that whole prey is also tolerated extremely well by ferrets with IBD and food allergies.
Note: Forcing a sudden change to a new food that the ferret doesn’t recognize as edible yet can cause stress, exacerbating the GI upset.
Allergies to Kits
One other thing to remember, a lot of people are allergic to kit dander, but not the ferrets themselves. Made no sense to me until I discovered holding young kits I often got a bad rash or hives, but never from my older babies. I assumed it was bedding until a friend of mine informed me about kit dander bothering a lot of people.
What Causes Ferret Allergies?
While ferrets are common pets, there is little known about allergic reactions to these animals. The few studies performed on ferrets show that the proteins causing the allergies are found in the hair, urine, feces and bedding material. Urine from male ferrets may contain the most potent amount of allergen.
Can I Own Ferrets Even if I’m Allergic?
First check with a specialist to see if the shots they have now may help reduce the reactions. You’d also help immensly to have one room completely ferret free with a hepa filter running in there at all times. Plus they recommend wiping down the furniture and walls with a sponge and distilled water (the walls from knee high down to the floor) to remove up to 75% of the allergen clinging there, each month.
But…it really really depends on how the person with the allergies is willing to take this. You may need to wait till you move out to do this safely. I’ve had an allergic reaction to ferrets that almost closed up my throat, I had trouble breathing even with antihistamines for over 5 hours after an hour’s exposure at a pet fair. It was frightening. I would not understand someone allergic having to put themselves in that position 24/7.