Kids and Dogs

Children raised in a house with two or more dogs or cats during the first year of life may be less likely to develop allergic diseases as compared with children raised without pets, according to a study in the latest issue of the Journal of the American Medical Association.

Children who grow up with dogs and cats in the home have a significantly reduced risk of developing pet allergies — plus common ones, like allergies to pollens and molds — by as much as 50 percent or more.

This a backed by another new study by Finnish researchers that there are viable health benefits for babies raised around dogs.

The researchers studied almost 400 children from their third trimester through their first year of life, and found that babies raised in homes with dogs have fewer colds and respiratory tract symptoms or infections, fewer ear infections, and require fewer antibiotics during their first year than those raised in pet-free homes. Babies raised amongst cats also showed health benefits, but they were not as pronounced as those babies whose families had dogs.

According to Eija Bergroth, MD, of Finland’s Kuopio University Hospital, “The strongest effect was seen with dog contacts. We do not know why it was stronger than with cat contacts. It might have something to do with dirt brought inside by the dogs, especially since the strongest protective effect was seen with children living in houses where dogs spent a lot of time outside.”