German researchers believe that having a dog in the house reduces the risk that young children will develop allergies.
The study, which was conducted over a six-year period, found that growing up with a pet trains the immune system to be less sensitive to potential triggers for allergies like asthma, eczema and hay fever.
Kids may get beneficial early exposure to germs carried into the house on the animal’s fur, which helps their immune systems develop.
“Our results show clearly that the presence of a dog in the home during subjects’ infancy is associated with a significantly low level of sensitization to pollens and inhaled allergens,” said Joachim Heinrich of the National Research Centre for Environmental Health in Munich.
The same protective effect was not seen in children who had frequent contact with dogs but did not have one at home.
Previous studies have suggested that exposure to pets may have a protective effect against allergies but many of these studies were based on retrospective questioning of subjects about their exposure.
I knew our dog was good for more than giving kisses and finishing my sons half eaten dinners!
PHOTOCREDIT: ME! That’s our wrinkletastic puppy Molli!