Urban environment predisposes dogs and their owners to allergic symptoms

Sci Rep. 2018 Jan 25;8(1):1585. doi: 10.1038/s41598-018-19953-3.


Our companion-animals, dogs, suffer increasingly from non-communicable diseases, analogous to those common in humans, such as allergic manifestations. In humans, living in rural environments is associated with lower risk of allergic diseases. Our aim was to explore whether a similar pattern can be found in dogs, using a nation-wide survey in Finland (n = 5722). We characterised the land-use around dog's home at the time of birth as well as around its current home, and described several lifestyle factors. The severity of owner-reported allergic symptoms in dogs was estimated with a comprehensive set of questions, developed by experts of canine dermatology. Also, the prevalence of diagnosed allergies in dog owners was recorded. The results indicate that allergic symptoms are more prevalent in urban environments both in dog owners and in dogs (accounting the effect of dog breed). Several factors related to rural living, such as bigger family size and regular contact with farm animals and other pets, were also protective against allergic symptoms in dogs. Interestingly, allergic dogs were more likely to have allergic owners than healthy dogs were. Therefore, we suggest that the mutual presence of allergic symptoms in both species indicates common underlying causal factors of allergic diseases.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Animals
  • Cities / epidemiology
  • Dog Diseases / epidemiology*
  • Dogs
  • Finland / epidemiology
  • Hypersensitivity / epidemiology*
  • Hypersensitivity / veterinary*
  • Prevalence
  • Urban Population