Do Children with Dogs Get Sick Less?

We know that dogs bring so many great benefits to our family, but do they bring health benefits as well?

There has been much debate about whether or not there are actual health benefits for children who grow up around pets. A recent study suggests that having pets, including dogs, may actually boost your child’s health. This is good news for those of us who consider our dogs to be part of the family.

A Finnish study revealed that “babies who had early contact with dogs or cats were significantly healthier during the study and were 30 percent less likely to experience coughs, ear infections and symptoms such as stuffiness, runny nose, sneezing and congestion (rhinitis).” This study also revealed that babies that were born in families that already had a dog were 44 percent less likely to develop ear infections and 29 percent less likely to have used antibiotics in the last year compared to babies born in pet-free homes. Children who had more contact with dogs had less health problems in general.

This has led researchers to believe that early contact with a dog or a cat can boost the immune system in infancy, helping toddlers better ward off common childhood illnesses.Though the study seems to show that children who grow up in households with pets have stronger immune systems, parents should be aware that some children may be allergic to pets. Therefore, it’s best to talk to your child’s pediatrician before bringing a new pet into your home.

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