Spending increasing amounts of time indoors, sitting on sofas and eating human food is causing our pampered pooches to suffer from allergies.
A UK veterinarian has said that allergies are behind many modern canine complaints — including problems with the ears and eyes, as well as skin irritation.
Symptoms can be as obvious as scratching to as obscure as repeated paw licking.
A total of 2.56 million dogs in Britain suffer from inflammation, with his research suggesting that 1.6 million of these cases can be linked to an allergic reaction.
In total, it is estimated that there are around 8–9 million of man’s best friends living with families across the UK.
Labradors — which were 2019’s most popular dog breed — are particularly susceptible to allergies, as are Yorkshire terriers, the expert has warned.
It is thought that growing up in clean houses doesn’t challenge the canine immune system enough — leading to overly sensitive immune responses later in life.
Spending increasing amounts of time indoors, sitting on sofas and eating human food is causing our pampered pets to suffer allergies. Labradors, pictures, are particularly susceptible
‘The more they live with humans, the more the dogs are exposed to allergens,’ said companion animal epidemiologist Dan O’Neill of the Royal Veterinary College, London, told the Times.
‘A lot of domestic dogs are working breeds. They are bred to be outside and in kennels, but now we have them living inside,’ he added.
‘While that may be good for the dog — it’s warm — it is an environment more likely to trigger allergies.’
According to Dr O’Neill, while there is little evidence at present to suggest that the incidence of allergies is rising among dogs, risk factors for such have increased.
Although allergies can be passed on from one generation of dogs to the next, they can also be triggered by environmental factors — such as being exposed to pillows and quilts which contain ‘the dead bodies of dust mites’.
Furthermore, a recent investigation by the Wall Street Journal — which reported that 10–15 per cent of dogs treated by US vets had allergies — suggested that cases of skin allergies set off by dust, feathers and specific cases look to be on the rise.
However, the US-based vets cautioned that this apparent increase in allergies could be a product of greater awareness of such conditions, rather than an actual rise in their incidence overall.
Labradors — which were 2019’s most popular dog breed — are particularly susceptible to allergies, as are Yorkshire terriers (one of which is pictured) Dr O’Neill has warned
Protein allergies — gluten intolerance, for example — can also manifest in dogs.
‘Diet comes in and out of fashion as to whether it’s a cause of allergy,’ Dr O’Neill said.
‘Every dog [presented with a possible allergic reaction] undergoes a dietary trial and a reasonably high proportion of dogs will respond to that.’
‘That’s not necessarily because they are being fed human food — there’s a lot of protein allergies. For gluten intolerance, exactly the same process will happen in dogs as it does in humans.’
‘[Dogs] are becoming more like us. They are living in our environment, eating our food. Their health is morphing into our health and vice versa,’ Dr O’Neill told the Times.
‘Slowly, dogs are becoming part of the human family.’
‘People used to leave their pets outside to fend for themselves. Now we see them more as furry kids, and we’re watching everything,’ medical director Jordan Beauchamp of GoodVets in Chicago told the Wall Street Journal.
DOGS FIRST BECAME DOMESTICATED ABOUT 20,000 to 40,000 YEARS AGO
A genetic analysis of the world’s oldest known dog remains revealed that dogs were domesticated in a single event by humans living in Eurasia, around 20,000 to 40,000 years ago.
Dr Krishna Veeramah, an assistant professor in evolution at Stony Brook University, told MailOnline: ‘The process of dog domestication would have been a very complex process, involving a number of generations where signature dog traits evolved gradually.
‘The current hypothesis is that the domestication of dogs likely arose passively, with a population of wolves somewhere in the world living on the outskirts of hunter-gatherer camps feeding off refuse created by the humans.
‘Those wolves that were tamer and less aggressive would have been more successful at this, and while the humans did not initially gain any kind of benefit from this process, over time they would have developed some kind of symbiotic [mutually beneficial] relationship with these animals, eventually evolving into the dogs we see today.’