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Posted: 30th November 2021

Puppyhood diet a ‘significant factor’ in allergy development
Researchers observed more than 4,000 pupppies to examine the link between diet and the prevalence of owner-reported allergy/atopy skin signs.
Findings suggest raw food could protect puppies against skin issues.

A puppy's diet could affect the onset of allergy and atopy-related skin symptoms in adulthood, new research suggests.

The study by the University of Helsinki found that puppies whose diet consisted of at least 20 per cent raw food, or less than 80 per cent dry food, developed significantly fewer AASS in older age. 

Conversely, puppies that did not eat any raw food - or whose diet consisted of mostly dry food -  developed more AASS symptoms in later life. The findings are published in the Journal of Veterinary Internal Medicine

“The puppies that had been fed raw tripe, raw organ meats, and human meal leftovers during puppyhood showed significantly less allergy and atopy related skin symptoms in adult life,” explained Anna Hielm-Björkman from the University’s Faculty of Veterinary Medicine

“On the other hand, puppies not getting any raw foods, eating most of their food as dry food, i.e. kibble, being fed fruits, and heat-dried animal parts, had significantly more allergy and atopy related skin symptoms in adulthood”.

In the study, researchers observed more than 4,000 puppies to examine the link between diet and the prevalence of owner-reported allergy/atopy skin signs. Building on answers that owners had given in an independent online feeding survey, a total of 46 individual food items and four major diet types were studied for their association with AASS in adulthood.

Among their findings, researchers also discovered that processed commercial dog foods, such as canned foods, appeared to increase the prevalence of AASS in later life. Dogs that never ate such foods showed a significantly decreased prevalence of allergies and skin issues.

“These findings indicate that it was the raw food component that was the beneficial health promotor,” said Hielm-Björkman, “and that even as little as 20 per cent of the diet being raw foods, already gives health benefits”. 

The researchers conclude that the study only suggests a causal relationship but does not prove it, adding: ‘Puppyhood exposure to raw animal-based foods might have a protective influence on AASS incidence in adulthood, while puppyhood exposure to mixed oils, heat-processed foods and sugary fruits might be a potential risk factor of AASS incidence later.'

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