Allergic problems to dogs can be caused by pollen

Allergiska besvär mot hund kan bero på pollen

Most people know that dogs produce allergens that are spread via their fur. But can they also carry allergens other than their own and thus cause allergic problems? Researchers at Karolinska Institutet wanted to investigate this because they had long had a hypothesis that dogs' fur could be a potential storage location for pollen. Now a study has been carried out. - The result gives an indication that the pollen allergen can accumulate in dogs' fur. In this way, people who are not allergic to dogs could still experience that they react to dogs, says Guro Gafvelin, researcher in immunology.

Early summer is finally here and so is pollen season along with dog allergies. Birch pollen is one of the most common causes of allergies in Sweden, and this year high levels have been measured. Approximately 25 percent of the population is estimated to be affected, where the symptoms can be itchy eyes, runny nose and fatigue. Using a large number allergen tests , which dog owners used and sent to Karolinska Institutet's laboratory, the researchers have now conducted a study in which they have investigated whether the birch pollen allergen can accumulate in dogs' fur.

- What we have been able to deduce from the results is that there are higher concentrations of birch pollen in dogs' fur during the pollen season compared to other months of the year.

Allergic complaints to dogs Photo: Alex Jones

Allergic complaints to dogs

Sofia Holke, 28 years old, is severely allergic to, among other things, ash, hazel, grass and birch. She had her first allergic reaction about ten years ago. Sofia and her partner have no fur animals, but it happens that she comes into contact with dogs through family and friends.

- I had no idea that pollen can be found in the fur of dogs. It doesn't feel very good and is something I have to pay attention to. I'm not allergic to dogs, but felt extremely allergic to my friends' dog once when I was at their country house. However, it is difficult to say what it was because of that time, says Sofia Holke.

Guro Gafvelin claims that one should not draw too quick conclusions based on the results. That people who feel that they react to dogs are instead allergic to pollen, or allergic to something else that the dog has in its fur, the researchers can only speculate about at the moment. The next step is to investigate the presence of other allergens in fur, such as mites and grass pollen.

Seven out of ten dog owners sleep with their dog in bed and even more presumably have their dog next to them on the sofa from time to time. In other words, most people live closely with their pets, which means an increased risk of being affected by what the dog has in its fur.

- It is good for dog owners to be observant that the dog can spread other than its own allergens such as pollen or mites. If you have allergic problems and have a dog, it can therefore be a good idea to wash the dog even if you know that you are not allergic to dogs. This applies especially when there is a lot of pollen in the air, says Guro Gafvelin.

(Photo top: Krista Mangulsone)