As if the obvious benefits of having a dog or cat aren’t enough (they’re cute and cuddly and love you unconditionally), research shows that raising fur babies alongside your human baby can decrease the risk of your child developing certain allergies.
Dr. Dennis Ownby, an allergist, immunologist, and pediatrician at the Medical College of Georgia, tracked 474 babies from birth to the age of seven and found that those children who lived in a home with at least two or more dogs or cats were half as likely to develop indoor allergies to dust mites and pet dander, as well as to outdoor allergies like ragweed and grass.
While the reason is unclear, Dr. Ownby suspects it has to do with pets transferring bacteria to the children’s skin when they lick them.
“That lick transfers bacteria that live in animals’ mouths, and the exposure to the bacteria may change the way the child’s immune system responds to other allergens.”
If you weren’t fortunate enough to have a family pet lick away your indoor allergies, visit our Home Allergy Patient Guide for tips on coping and questions to ask your doctor at your next appointment.