Sugar gliders are marsupials, and they closely resemble flying squirrels. In fact, they’re named so because an adult sugar glider can glide a whopping 150 feet in one go. It’s not surprising people are enamored with these fluffy flyers. But are they safe for people with allergies?
Are sugar gliders hypoallergenic? No, sugar gliders are not hypoallergenic. They have allergens in their dander, saliva, and urine that can trigger severe allergic reactions. However, it’s possible that someone with an allergy to another mammal may not have any reaction to a sugar glider.
I’m not going to sugarcoat the truth for you – there have been incidents of new glider parents having allergic reactions or developing allergies after they bought their pet home.
So, it’s safe to say sugar gliders aren’t hypoallergenic. However, some people don’t suffer any allergies from these little guys despite being allergic to cats, dogs, or other furry creatures.
If you’re wondering about getting a sugar glider and are worried about allergies, don’t worry. I’ve got you covered. This article is dedicated to discussing all things allergies and sugar gliders.
Whey Are Some People Allergic to Animals?
Welcome to pet allergy-101. Take a seat and get all comfy as I explain the science behind unsuspecting pet parents developing a sudden attack of hayfever.
First thing’s first, let’s talk about why people develop allergies to their pets before anything else. To keep things simple, I’ve divided the usual suspects behind allergic reactions into separate categories.
1. Pet Dander
Pet dander is just another term for dead skin cells (from animals, that is). Before that knowledge evokes the usual ‘ewww’ response, it’s not something gross or unnatural. I mean, humans shed around 30 to 40,000 dead skin cells off their skin per second, so we really shouldn’t be too judgy.
Pets, obviously, are all very different species from us humans. This means that when pet dander, which is organic matter, floats around in the atmosphere and goes into your lungs, it can be mistaken for a foreign substance by your immune system, and that’s where the trouble begins.
But just because you’re allergic to one species doesn’t mean you’ll be allergic to another. Don’t mistake the neighbor’s pet as a hypoallergenic cat just because you don’t sneeze around them but you’re a runny mess around your friend’s dog.
Generally, people with over-sensitive immune systems are the ones to develop pet allergies because their immune systems fire up the production of histamines when they come into contact with dander.
In case you didn’t know, histamines are the culprit behind allergy symptoms, including sneezing, watery eyes, runny noses – the works.
2. Pet Urine and Saliva
Okay, you can go ‘ewww’ now, I won’t stop you. Animals function like all living things. They eat, sleep, and eliminate waste to live optimal lives. And therein lies the rub, as Shakespeare would say, for the allergy-sensitive.
Specific proteins in the urine and saliva of pets like cats, dogs, etc., can be airborne (because they’re microscopic particles) and become the potential cause of allergies.
Much like dander, when these proteins find their way into your system, it can lead to the immune system acting up and releasing histamines to flush the allergens out.
Are Sugar Gliders Hypoallergenic?
Now that we’ve dispensed with the top causes of pet allergies, let’s put all this info into perspective when it comes to sugar gliders.
See, there’s a misconception around animals that shed a lot being worse for people with allergies. While it’s not entirely untrue, most people don’t realize that it’s not the fur that causes allergies; it’s the dander attached to the fur.
That means that just because sugar gliders don’t shed a lot doesn’t mean you’re going to be 100% safe from developing allergies. And, long story short, there’s no sure-fire way of being certain that you’re not going to be allergic to sugar gliders.
Not unless you spend a sizable amount of time with one and discover the truth the hard way. During my research, I came across sugar glider owners who did actually develop allergy symptoms when they brought their pets home.
If you possess a stellar immune system that doesn’t quake at the sight of animal protein or dander, then you likely don’t know what pet allergy symptoms look like.
But, if you start showing any of the following symptoms, you’re well on your way to developing a pet allergy because they can swing by at any point in your life, regardless of how well you dealt with them previously.
Here are the symptoms of pet allergies:
- Itchy skin, mouth, nose, or throat
- Watery eyes
- Runny Nose
- Nasal Congestion
- Asthma attacks
Here’s another angle you should consider before adopting a sugar glider. Folks with sensitive skin may develop conditions like dermatitis if they bring home a sugar glider. Gliders have a habit of sneezing on their hands to groom their fur (eww again, I know).
Add to that the fact that sugar gliders have super-sharp nails that can easily scratch your skin, and that means bacteria present in their saliva can enter your skin and cause rashes. Some people may even require antibiotics to get clear of the situation.
Do I Have to Give Up My Sugar Glider?
Suppose you went ahead and got your sugar glider without worrying too much about allergies, only to fall prey to an overload of histamines.
Being allergic to a pet doesn’t necessarily mean you have to give them up. However, your allergic reaction can’t be serious or severe if you want to keep your sugar glider despite being allergic.
Pet parents who suffer from conditions like asthma are also advised to consult a doctor before deciding to continue living with their pet.
Continuing on the assumption you only experience mild allergic reactions and are not asthmatic, here are some pro tips you can implement to co-exist with your sugar glider harmoniously.
1. Create a Pet-Free Zone
One of the best ways to recharge your batteries after a vigorous round of allergy-induced sneezing is to go to your pet-free zone. You can single out a room (preferably your own) where your sugar glider isn’t supposed to hang.
This will help you create an environment that’s relatively free of pet dander and other contaminants that kick-start your allergic reactions.
Also, make sure to create a pet-free zone where there’s a source of natural light and ventilation. Research by The University of Oregon shows sunlight can kill harmful bacteria and enhance indoor air quality.
2. Be Meticulous About Cleaning
Pet dander has the uncanny ability to stick to furniture and upholstery. It can also cling to your bedsheets, blankets, carpets, clothes – you name it.
That’s why it’s a good idea to vacuum and clean the surface of your home at least twice a week. Invest in a portable dust-buster for pet hair if lugging out the vacuum takes up too much time.
However, whenever you’re cleaning, make sure to start dusting the higher surfaces, then furniture, and finally move on to the floors. That way, you’ll have a better chance of getting rid of the stagnant pet dander collecting in your house.
3. Get an Air Purifier
If you have central air conditioning in your home, chances are that it’s equipped with a filter to maintain the IAQ (indoor air quality). But that doesn’t mean your AC filter doesn’t need a little help every now and then.
You can choose to supplement your existing air filter with a HEPA (high-efficiency particular air) air purifier that’s adept at trapping pet hair, dander, smoke, dust, pollen, etc. There is a wide variety of compact and powerful air purifiers on the market that fall in the economical price bracket (this one’s my absolute favorite).
If you’re smart about the placement of your portable air purifier, you can ensure clean and fresh air for that room – that’ll help keep allergens at bay. You can also open your windows when it’s warm outside to get some fresh airflow through your living space.
4. Talk to Your Doctor About Antihistamines
Some people don’t like taking medications for something they can avoid other ways, but antihistamines offer easy relief for millions of people. They’re even available over the counter. Of course, you’ll have to talk to your doctor to make sure these medications are right for you.
Sometimes allergies get in the way of living a comfortable life and can even keep you from enjoying living with your pet. Medications like Claritin and Zyrtec could help you keep your allergies under control enough to not have to worry about them at all.
Again, I want to stress that you should refer to your doctor about your allergy issue and seek their advice before trying any medications on your own.
Here are a few other pertinent bits of information about sugar gliders for all my fellow glider fans out there.
Can You Potty Train a Sugar Glider?
Sugar gliders are furry, cute, and adorable. But naturally potty-trained they are not. Domesticated sugar gliders are housed in adequately-sized cages, and that’s where you can teach them to go if you play your cards right. Some even swear they can be litter trained.
Sugar gliders generally tend to eliminate right after they awaken or after taking in a sizable meal. That being the case, try not to take your pet out of its cage (for bonding time) for at least half an hour after it’s eaten or woken up. That’ll help you contain the mess your sugar glider can make.
Do Sugar Gliders Get Mites?
Sugar gliders are just as susceptible to parasites as cats and dogs are. That means your sugar glider can become a host for nasties like:
If your pet appears more lethargic or itchy than usual or displays other signs of such an infestation, get your pet to the veterinarian as soon as possible to tackle the situation.
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