Kids Who Grow Up With Dogs Have Lower Asthma Risks

Research confirms how having a dog in the family with kids has many health benefits for children, particularly those with asthma.

Kids who grow up around dogs gain many benefits and learn responsibility early on.

Having a pet teaches them the value of caring and providing for an animal that could become their longtime best friend.

However, a study showed an added benefit for children who grow up with a dog.

Exposure to pets helps children develop a stronger immune system against diseases like asthma and allergies.

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Asthma Risk Reduction By Age 6

“Kids in animal environments breathe air that contains more bacteria and bacterial fragments, which actually could lower their risk of asthma,” says lead researcher.

A study published in the JAMA Pediatrics journal showed the medical benefits of being around dogs in children as young as one.

The kids apparently reduced their asthma risks by the time they reached six years old.

Experts from Sweden conducted the study among one million children in the national registry.

They looked into the data of families with dogs and other farm animals and analyzed medical records that included asthma treatments.

The data showed that children with pets lowered their risk of asthma by as much as 15 percent compared to those with no dogs in the house.

Children around farm animals, especially in the first year of their life, also mitigated their asthma risks by as much as 52 percent.

Different Air Quality in Homes With Dogs

It's unclear to the experts how exposure to animals can help lower the risks of asthma, as further studies have to be undertaken to determine the specific links and effects.

The presumption is that dog ownership allows children to spend more time outdoors, thus exposing themselves to dirt, dust, and other allergens.

Different Air Quality in Homes With DogsChildren raised in an environment with dogs breathe a different air quality than those whose houses are pristine and clean.

While there are more bacteria in homes with pets, certain microbes might, in fact, help children stave off and outgrow the asthma triggers.

As much as asthma is a genetic condition, environmental factors also impact the immune system's health.

Another study published also came up with the same conclusion that dogs may help prevent asthma from worsening as children grow older.

What these findings highlight, therefore, is that families shouldn't give up their dogs or be discouraged from getting a puppy with the arrival of a new baby.

It's a different matter, however, if an older child is already allergic to dogs in the house.

In this case, bringing a new pet home won't be a good idea.

When A Child is Allergic to Dogs

A child allergic to dogs might often have sniffles, watery eyes, and frequent sneezing.

Some children, however, have more manageable allergic symptoms than others.

If this applies to your family and you don't want to get rid of the dog, then you can apply certain strategies to reduce the allergic or asthmatic attacks, such as:

  • Bathing your dog every other week to minimize the shedding of danders.
  • Making the child's room a completely pet-free zone.
  • Investing in air purifiers and upgrading the filters in your air conditioning units.
  • Vacuuming the house as often as possible.
  • Teach your child to wash his hands before and after holding a pet.
  • Changing the child’s clothes after he spends time with his dog.
  • Letting your child wear a mask when playing with the dog.
  • Changing some upholstered surfaces inside the house so the pet dander won't stick.

Consult with a pediatrician for help with asthma and allergy medications.

Also, talk to a veterinarian who might be able to recommend ways to minimize pet shedding.

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Sam has a Master's degree in Engineering Physics and years of experience in writing science reports, scientific research and science content. Being very passionate about animals, he's always looking for opportunities to use his skills and experience in researching and writing about dogs.