One of the most important questions to ask before getting a new pet is whether you are allergic to the pet. Fortunately, there are some types of pets that are hypoallergenic, meaning they rarely cause allergies. But what about chinchillas? Are chinchillas hypoallergenic?
Chinchillas are among the most hypoallergenic pets there are. They don’t shed much, produce little dander, and have very firm stools. However, they are not non-allergenic because they also have a living environment. You may be allergic to parts of the chinchilla’s food or housing.
So chinchillas themselves rarely cause allergies. It is rather the bedding, the food, or the dust bath that can cause allergies.
Let’s take a closer look at whether chinchillas are hypoallergenic and what hypoallergenic and non-allergenic actually mean. Then we will explain why chinchillas are hypoallergenic.
We then also address the question of whether chinchillas can still cause allergies and what exactly are the allergens that play a role in this. Finally, we also reveal the symptoms of chinchilla allergy that you should watch out for.
Table of Contents
Are Chinchillas Hypoallergenic?
Chinchillas are among the pets most likely to be hypoallergenic. They do not shed or almost do not shed and produce almost no dander.
This reduces the possible allergens compared to other pets. Especially the dander is responsible in most cases when someone has an allergy to a certain pet.
However, remember that hypoallergenic does not mean that there can be no allergies. Only the probability of allergies or the number of possible allergens is reduced in this case.
You could also be allergic to the food, bedding, or anything else related to your chinchillas.
If you have the opportunity to spend a few hours with chinchillas before buying, you should do so. This way you can at least get a first impression if you are allergic to chinchillas.
What Do Hypoallergenic and Non-Allergenic Mean?
The word hypoallergenic literally means below average or less allergenic. It simply says that something has fewer allergens, i.e. allergy-causing substances, than other comparable things.
Many pets, such as dogs, cats, rabbits, and other animals with fur, can trigger allergies. A hypoallergenic pet is then a pet that is less likely to trigger allergies.
However, fur is not the actual allergen in pets, nor is it the only allergen. It is rather the hair roots and dander that trigger an allergy. In addition, saliva, urine, and mucus are also possible allergens in pets.
Therefore, a pet that does not shed as much is not automatically hypoallergenic. Many other factors play a role. The most important factor is certainly whether or not one of the pet’s allergens triggers allergic reactions in a human.
However, in addition to the allergens of the pet itself, the environment in which the pet lives also plays a role. If you have a pet that needs a lot of hay, you are already pretty badly off with hay fever.
So you have to look not only at the pet itself but also at its lifestyle and environment when it comes to assessing whether a pet is hypoallergenic or not.
Non-allergenic means that something does not cause allergies. There are then simply no allergens present.
If you have read the above carefully, it is certainly not surprising that there are actually no non-allergenic pets. Every pet produces proteins that can also act as allergens.
Why Are Chinchillas Hypoallergenic?
The fact that chinchillas are considered hypoallergenic is mainly due to the fact that you do not lose dander. Dander is the most common trigger of allergies to pets.
But chinchillas have other advantages for allergy sufferers. Unlike other pets, they don’t really shed. So there is no hair spreading, whose hair roots can also act as allergens.
So compared to other pets, chinchillas have fewer allergens that could trigger an allergy in you. However, this does not mean that chinchillas cannot cause allergies.
Can Chinchillas Cause Allergies?
Chinchillas may well cause allergies. The fact that they are hypoallergenic does not mean that allergies are excluded. They are just less likely because there are fewer possible allergens.
Allergic reactions are more likely to be triggered by chinchillas through their urine, saliva, and mucus. The good news, however, is that humans are much less likely to react to these allergens compared to dandruff or hair follicles.
However, besides the allergic factors coming from the chinchillas themselves, allergies can also be triggered by their environment and food.
Pets that cannot cause allergies at all do not exist. It is always just a question of probabilities. And there, chinchillas do better than many other pets.
However, if you have a history of allergies or want to be sure, you should talk to your doctor before buying chinchillas. Your doctor can do an allergy test on you to check for common allergies and find out if you have one or more of them.
What Can Cause Chinchilla Allergies?
As explained above, chinchillas are hypoallergenic but not non-allergenic. There are definitely some possible sources of allergy if you keep chinchillas as pets.
These allergy sources are divided into allergens coming from the chinchillas themselves and allergens coming from their environment.
The following list contains some typical allergens that can play a role in connection with chinchillas:
- Urine: In addition to dander and hair follicles, pet urine is also a possible allergen. Urine may contain the same allergenic proteins found in dandruff and hair roots.
- Saliva: It is the same with the saliva of chinchillas as with the urine. The allergenic proteins are found here as well. So it is possible that the saliva of the chinchillas will cause allergic reactions in you.
- Mucus: And the same is true for mucus as for urine and saliva. The proteins that cause allergies are basically found in all chinchilla body fluids.
- Dust Bath: Chinchillas need a regular dust bath for their grooming. This does not leave out the fine dust flying through the air. If you are allergic to dust, this dust bath may cause allergic reactions in you.
- Food: Chinchillas eat timothy hay and other dried grasses and herbs, among other things. If you have hay fever or an allergy to grasses, it is likely that the chinchillas’ food will bother you.
- Bedding: Bedding for chinchillas usually contains wood chips. These wood chips are supposed to soak up urine and provide more cleanliness in the cage. The chinchillas will naturally swirl up the wood chips, so wood dust will become airborne. This can be uncomfortable for people with allergies to certain woods or wood dust.
What Are the Symptoms of a Chinchilla Allergy?
If you already have chinchillas at home, but you are not sure if you or a family member is allergic to them, you need to know the symptoms of allergy.
Allergies can have a variety of symptoms, and they are also not always the same severity. It is also possible for multiple symptoms to occur at the same time.
In the following list, you will find the most common symptoms that can occur with a pet allergy:
- Runny nose
- Itchy nose
- Stuffy nose
- Postnasal drip
- Scratchy throat
- Itchy eyes
- Watery eyes
- Red eyes
- Swollen eyes
- Blue or red skin under the eyes
- Facial pain
- Feeling of pressure in the face
- Pain or tightness in the chest
- Difficulty breathing
- Wheezing or whistling when exhaling
- Skin symptoms
- Sleep disturbances due to wheezing, coughing or shortness of breath
If you are asthmatic, symptoms may also be significantly increased.
However, there are ways you can at least reduce symptoms. We will go into this in the next chapter.
What Can I Do if I Am Allergic to My Chinchillas?
If you have strong allergic reactions to your chinchillas, sooner or later you will probably have to give them away. But before that, you can try the tips in this chapter to reduce your allergic reaction.
If your allergic reaction to the chinchillas is not that severe, the tips below can help you solve the allergy problems altogether so that you can keep your chinchillas with more joy and better health.
- Do not put the chinchillas in the bedroom or living room: They probably spend a lot of time in these rooms. But that also means you’ll be exposed to allergens longer. Keep your chinchillas in a room where you do not have to spend so much time.
- Keep your distance when dust bathing: Dust bathing is a common cause of allergic reactions. You can manage the dust bath by only putting it in your chinchillas cage for an hour or so each day. The chinchillas can then do their grooming, but you yourself do not have to live with the negative effects of the dust all the time. You can also cover the cage with a cloth during the dust bath.
- Use a heavier sand for the dust bath: If you use a less dusty sand for the dust bath, also not so much dust can fly through the air. Try different products to find one that has a positive effect on your allergies.
- Use a closed container or a container with a roof for the dust bath: If the dust doesn’t have the chance to fly freely through the air, it can’t affect your well-being as much. Use a sand bath that prevents dust from circulating freely.
- Ventilate the room regularly: If your chinchillas live in a room that is regularly ventilated, allergens will not be able to spread as freely. However, you should make sure that there is no draft, otherwise your chinchillas could get sick.
- Use a good air filter: Modern air filters are wonderful devices. They filter all the air in a room several times an hour and pull out many harmful substances from the air. So do many of the possible alelrgens. With a good air filter, you can probably significantly reduce your allergy symptoms.
- Wear a mask and gloves when cleaning the cage: Protect yourself when cleaning your chinchilla’s cage. Wear an FFP2 mask and latex gloves while cleaning the cage. This way, the allergens stirred up in the cage will not harm you.
- Have antihistamine ready: If you have severe allergic reactions, antihistamines will help stop them quickly. Keep antihistamines on hand in the form of spray or tablets so that you can quickly resort to them in case of emergency.
- Talk to your doctor: Ask your doctor for advice about allergic reactions. Depending on what the allergy is and how severe it is, hyposensitization may be able to help you. Your doctor can also advise you on antihistamines.
Conclusion: Are Chinchillas Hypoallergenic?
Chinchillas are clearly more hypoallergenic than many other pets. However, it is not impossible that you will still get allergic reactions.
Even though chinchillas do not have the common allergens dandruff and hair roots, they still have other allergens such as saliva, urine, and mucus.
You may also be allergic to something in the chinchilla’s environment. Especially the bedding, food, and regular dust bath are more common candidates for allergies.
If you have allergic reactions, however, all is not lost. There are some things you can do about it. Also, talk to your doctor about what can be done about your allergy from a medical standpoint.