Have you always wanted to welcome a cute and fluffy rabbit to your home but are prone to allergies? If so, we’re here to help. Below, we’ll talk a little more about whether or not rabbits are hypoallergenic, why this is the case, and answer some frequently asked questions.
Read on to find out more!
Are Rabbits Hypoallergenic & Safe For Allergy Sufferers?
The simple answer to that is no. Unfortunately, rabbits are not hypoallergenic. There are however, some rabbits that are easier on allergy-sufferers than others. If you’d really like to welcome a rabbit to your home, you can also adopt some rabbit-keeping practises that will help with keeping allergen exposure to a minimum.
It really comes down to what you’re allergic to and how you are most at risk of being exposed to that substance. For some people, it’s not the rabbit that does the damage. Rather it can be the dust or mold the rabbit’s cage and hay collect.
If you choose to get a pet rabbit, you’ll need to be vigilant with cleaning and maintenance routines to help keep allergies at bay!
Do Rabbits Shed?
Yes, they do. In fact, rabbits shed every three months. What’s interesting however is that rabbits alternate how heavily they shed every three months. That means, it’ll shed lightly the first time around and heavily the next time. Depending on the rabbit that you have, some may also take a couple of weeks or more to lose their old coat of fur.
Hypoallergenic Rabbits That Are Good for Allergy Sufferers
Compared to cats and dogs, rabbits don’t shed as much and they are also smaller in size. When it comes to allergies, it’s not just a matter of how much hair they release but also dead skin cells and dander that they slough as well.
To some degree, the fact that they are smaller and usually live in a contained space might be ok for some allergy sufferers. Even so, we can’t say any types of rabbits are 100% hypoallergenic by nature. They do still produce allergens that affect anyone with pet sensitivities.
In saying this, there are some rabbits that are more allergy-friendly than others. Rex rabbits, for example, are more suited to some people with allergies as they have a lower shed count and produce less dander due to the plushness of their fur.
Are Rabbit Allergies Common?
Skin allergies are common, especially when coming into contact with a rabbit’s saliva and fur. Minor breathing allergies, like sniffles and watery eyes, are also somewhat common, mostly among people who are also allergic to other types of animals as well. Severe respiratory rabbit allergies, however, are rare.
Causes of Rabbit Allergies
Rabbit allergies are usually caused by coming into contact with the proteins that rabbits produce. These can be found in fur, saliva and dead skin cells and can trigger an allergic reaction when you touch or inhale these particles.
So, contrary to popular belief, it isn’t just the fur that causes the allergies but also the saliva proteins left on the rabbit’s fur after licking and the dead skin cells trapped in the fur too.
There are also secondary allergies that can be triggered not by the rabbit itself but by things that are associated with rabbit keeping. For instance, some people are allergic to the rabbit’s hay or the dust mites that get attracted to the hay.
This is why cleaning and maintenance practices are super important if you’re allergic to such substances. It’s also best to keep these out of your main living areas. Either keep them outdoors or in rooms that are not connected to your main ventilation.
Symptoms of Rabbit Allergies
The symptoms of rabbit allergies are similar to those of most other allergies. These can include:
- Eyes that are red, itchy or watery
- Nasal congestion
- Runny nose
- Skin irritation
What Should You Do if You’re Allergic to Your Rabbit?
If you’re allergic to your rabbit, the best thing to do is to remove it from your space. The next most important thing that you’ve got to do is to keep a clean space. You can do so by reducing clutter and textile surfaces in your home, misting your rabbit’s hay with water to reduce dust, or storing hay in a garage or a location where you don’t head to often.
While it differs from individual to individual, many find that their rabbit allergy is mostly caused by hay and dust mites rather than the rabbit itself.
If you’re allergic to the substances your rabbit produces, you can keep them in an outdoor hutch so all their allergens are contained in one space. Clean out the hutch often so that there isn’t a huge buildup of allergens. Be careful though!
You might find it best to ask a non-allergic member of your family to take on this task. Otherwise, invest in some protective gear like a mask and rubber gloves to minimise contact with these allergens.
FAQ – You Ask, We Answer
Below are the answers to some of the most frequently asked questions we’ve received.
Why is my rabbit itching?
If your rabbit is experiencing severe itching or scratching, it could be due to a condition called pruritus. This can be due to ear parasites, fur, dry skin, allergies and more. No matter what the cause might be, it’s best to take your rabbit to a vet right away to get the right treatment and medication.
If left untreated, not only could it affect your rabbit’s health but it could also trigger your allergies even more than usual.
Do bunnies need shots?
Pet rabbits within the US do not require any shots. In other countries such as the UK or other parts of Europe however, there are vaccinations for two fatal viruses common to the area’s wild rabbits – Myxomatosis and Viral Haemorrhagic Disease (VHD).
Are rabbits good for those with asthma?
Rabbits can be a trigger for those with asthma – especially during its heavy shedding season. While there are some precautions you can take, it’s not a good idea to purchase a rabbit if you’ve got asthma.
Is rabbit saliva clean?
Rabbits are very clean animals so their saliva is generally clean. Their saliva however, is what triggers allergic reactions for some people. When a rabbit cleans itself, its saliva is naturally deposited on the fur. When it dries, it flakes off and circulates throughout the house – triggering allergies.
We hope that this article provides you with more information as to whether rabbits are hypoallergenic. If you decide to get a pet rabbit, it’s best to look for a breed that’s more allergy-friendly.
Pair that with extra measures to keep your space clean and free from associated allergens (like hay and dust mites) that come with rabbit keeping. Alternatively, there are additional precautions that you can take to help with keeping the allergies at bay such as keeping your rabbit outside and allowing non-allergic members of your family to keep them clean.