Tag Archives: allergies

Liv­ing en­vir­on­ment af­fects the mi­cro­bi­ota and health of both dogs and their own­ers

For both dogs and humans, the risk of developing allergic diseases was at its lowest when the skin microbiota was shaped by a rural environment and a lifestyle that promotes microbial abundance. Photo: Emma Hakanen

In urban environments, allergic diseases are more common among dogs and their owners compared to those living in rural areas. Simultaneous allergic traits appear to be associated with the microbes found in the environment, but microbes relevant to health differ between dogs and humans.

In a joint research project known as DogEnvi, researchers from the University of Helsinki, the Finnish Environment Institute and the Finnish Institute for Health and Welfare have previously observed that dogs are more likely to have allergies when their owners suffer from allergic symptoms. In a new study, the researchers investigated whether such simultaneous presence of allergic traits is associated with gut or skin microbes shared by dogs and their owners. A total of 168 dog–owner pairs living in rural and urban environments participated in the study.

“Research shows that dogs and owners living in rural areas have a lower risk of developing an allergic disease compared to urban areas. We assumed that in rural areas both dogs and owners are exposed to health-promoting microbes. We found that the microbial exposure of both was different in rural and urban environments. For instance, the skin microbiota varied more between individuals in rural areas compared to their urban counterparts. A diverse and varying microbial exposure may be precisely what provides the associated health benefit,” says Senior Researcher Jenni Lehtimäki, PhD, from the Finnish Environment Institute.

Dogs and their own­ers seemed to share mi­crobes on their skin, but not in their gut

The study demonstrated that the living environment had a markedly more significant effect on the skin microbiota than on that of the gut in dogs and humans. Dogs living in urban areas had on their skin more microbes typically found on human skin, which may be caused by the accumulation of microbes typical to humans indoors and in urban areas, a phenomenon that has been previously observed.

In a study conducted earlier, the researchers noticed that both the living environment and living habits affected the canine skin microbiota.

“The same was now observed in humans. For both dogs and humans, the risk of developing allergic diseases was at its lowest when the skin microbiota was shaped by a rural environment and a lifestyle that promotes microbial abundance. Such a lifestyle was associated with a number of different animals in the family, as well as larger family size,” says Professor Hannes Lohi from the University of Helsinki.

While the living environment appeared to alter the species of the skin microbiota as well as the risk of allergic diseases in both dogs and their owners, no single shared microbe in the environment had a link to allergies in both dogs and humans.

“We detected microbes associated with allergies in urban dogs, as well as microbes connected to health in rural dogs and humans, but these microbes were different in dogs and humans. It appears that the microbes in the living environment are important for the health of both dogs and humans, but due to the physiological differences of the species, the microbes that are relevant can vary,” Lehtimäki sums up.

DogEnvi, a multidisciplinary research project launched in 2014, is aimed at investigating the significance of the living environment to canine health. Under the project, a study on the link between canine gut microbiota, nutrition and allergies is being prepared. The project has received funding from the Jane and Aatos Erkko Foundation, among others.

Source: University of Helsinki

Ori­ginal art­icle:  

Jenni Lehtimäki, Hanna Sinkko, Anna Hielm-Björkman, Tiina Laatikainen, Lasse Ruokolainen, Hannes Lohi. Simultaneous allergic traits in dogs and their owners are associated with living environment, lifestyle and microbial exposures. Scientific Reports 2020. DOI:10.1038/s41598-020-79055-x  

Dogs May Protect Against Childhood Eczema and Asthma

Two studies presented at the American College of Allergy, Asthma and Immunology (ACAAI) Annual Scientific Meeting show there may be even more reason to love your dog.

The first study shows babies born in a home with a dog during pregnancy receive protection from allergic eczema, though the protective effect goes down by age 10. A second study shows dogs may provide a protective effect against asthma, even in children allergic to dogs.

pregnant woman with dog

“Although eczema is commonly found in infants, many people don’t know there is a progression from eczema to food allergies to nasal allergies and asthma,” says allergist Gagandeep Cheema, MD, ACAAI member and lead author. “We wanted to know if there was a protective effect in having a dog that slowed down that progress.”

The study examined mother-child pairs exposed to a dog. “Exposure” was defined as keeping one or more dogs indoors for at least one hour daily. “We found a mother’s exposure to dogs before the birth of a child is significantly associated with lower risk of eczema by age 2 years, but this protective effect goes down at age 10,” says allergist Edward M. Zoratti, MD, ACAAI member and a study co-author.

In the second study, researchers examined the effects of two different types of dog exposure on children with asthma in Baltimore. The first type was the protein, or allergen, that affects children who are allergic to dogs. The second type were elements, such as bacteria, that a dog might carry. The researchers concluded that exposure to the elements that dogs carry may have a protective effect against asthma symptoms. But exposure to the allergen may result in more asthma symptoms among urban children with dog allergy.

“Among urban children with asthma who were allergic to dogs, spending time with a dog might be associated with two different effects,” says Po-Yang Tsou, MD, MPH, lead author. “There seems to be a protective effect on asthma of non-allergen dog-associated exposures, and a harmful effect of allergen exposure.” The researchers believe that a child’s contact with factors other than dog allergen, such as bacteria or other unknown factors, may provide the protective effect. “However, dog allergen exposure remains a major concern for kids who are allergic to dogs,” says Dr. Tsou.

People with dog allergy should work with their allergist to reduce exposure. ACAAI has additional tips for those with dog allergy who keep a dog in the home:

  • Keep your dog out of your bedroom and restrict it to only a few rooms. But know that keeping the dog in only one room will not limit the allergens to that room.
  • After you pet or hug your dog, wash your hands with soap and water.
  • High-efficiency particulate air (HEPA) cleaners that run continuously in a bedroom or living room can reduce allergen levels over time. Regular use of a high-efficiency vacuum cleaner or a central vacuum can also reduce allergen levels.
  • Giving your dog a bath at least once a week can reduce airborne dog allergen.

Abstract Title: Effect of Prenatal Dog Exposure on Eczema Development in Early and Late Childhood.
Author: Gagandeep Cheema, MD

Abstract Title:  The Effect of Animal Exposures on Asthma Morbidity Independent of Allergen Among Inner-city Asthmatic Children.
Author: Po-Yang Tsou, MD, MPH

 

Source:  American College of Allergy, Asthma and Immunology media release

Pet food mislabeling – it happens!

Researchers in Chapman University’s Food Science Program have recently published a study on pet food mislabeling. The study focused on commercial pet foods marketed for dogs and cats to identify meat species present as well as any instances of mislabeling. Of the 52 products tested, 31 were labeled correctly, 20 were potentially mislabeled, and one contained a non-specific meat ingredient that could not be verified.

“Although regulations exist for pet foods, increases in international trade and globalization of the food supply have amplified the potential for food fraud to occur,” said Rosalee Hellberg, Ph.D., and co-author on the study. “With the recent discovery of horsemeat in ground meat products sold for human consumption in several European countries, finding horsemeat in U.S. consumer food and pet food products is a concern, which is one of the reasons we wanted to do this study.”

Chicken was the most common meat species found in the pet food products. Pork was the second most common meat species detected, and beef, turkey and lamb followed, respectively. Goose was the least common meat species detected. None of the products tested positive for horsemeat.Pet Food Fig. 1 Color

Of the 20 potentially mislabeled products, 13 were dog food and 7 were cat food. Of these 20, 16 contained meat species that were not included on the product label, with pork being the most common undeclared meat species. In three of the cases of potential mislabeling, one or two meat species were substituted for other meat species.

In the study, DNA was extracted from each product and tested for the presence of eight meat species: beef, goat, lamb, chicken, goose, turkey, pork, and horse.

“Pet food safety was another area of concern, particularly with pet foods that are specifically formulated to address food allergies in both cats and dogs,” continued Dr. Hellberg.

The pet food industry is a substantial market in the United States. Nearly 75 percent of U.S. households own pets, totaling about 218 million pets (not including fish). On average, each household spends $500 annually on their pets, equating to about 1 percent of household expenditures. In the past five years, pet industry expenditures have increased by $10 billion, with $21 billion spent on pet food alone in 2012.

The foods developed for pets are regulated by both federal and state entities. The U.S. Food and Drug Administration Center for Veterinary Medicine regulates animal feed and pet foods. While the U.S. Department of Agriculture regulates the interstate transportation and processing of animal products, as well as the inspection of animal product imports and exports.

While a seemingly high percentage of pet foods were found to be potentially mislabeled in this study, the manner in which mislabeling occurred is not clear; nor is it clear as to whether the mislabeling was accidental or intentional and at which points in the production chain it took place.

The study was published in the journal Food Control and was completed with Chapman undergrad student Tara Okuma.

I contacted Dr Hellberg to see if she would disclose the brands of foods that were mislabeled.  She replied “It was not our intention to single out pet food brands, but rather to investigate the issue as a whole. Therefore, we will not be releasing the names of the brands or specific products that were tested in this study.”

Kathleen Crisley, specialist in dog massage, rehabilitation and nutrition/food therapy, Canine Catering Ltd, Christchurch, New Zealand

Source of content:  Chapman University media release