Forget the Obama administration cabinet. One of the most pressing issues facing the nation is the selection of First Dog.
President-elect Barack Obama and his wife have promised their daughters that a furry friend will accompany them to the White House. But 10-year-old Malia Obama is allergic to dogs, and the Obamas have expressed a desire to find a "hypoallergenic" dog -- preferably one from a shelter.
However, according to advice released today from the American Academy of Allergy, Asthma and Immunology, the first family needs to temper its hopes. "There is no truly hypoallergenic dog," says the AAAAI in a statement. It's a misconception that dog allergies are caused by the dog's hair. Allergies are caused by protein from the animal's dander, which can be found in dead skin cells, saliva and urine. These microscopic proteins travel through the air and are inhaled, triggering an allergic reaction in, well, quite a few people. A 1994 study in the Journal of Allergy and Clinical Immunology estimated that 2.3% of people have a reaction to dog allergens. That's about 10 million Americans.
Malia and her sister, Sasha, will get their puppy, though. Some dog breeds are considered allergy friendly, says the AAAAI. But that's because they're groomed more frequently. If the White House doesn't have a pet groomer on staff, it will soon.
For tips on avoiding animal allergies, see the AAAAI website.
-- Shari Roan
Photo: A candidate for the Obama White House: Peruvian hairless dog. Credit: Ernesto Benavides/AFP/Getty Images