Love Your Pet Day: How Pets Keep Us Healthier

Today is national “Love Your Pet Day” – a day to let your dog, cat, lizard, turtle, bird, orangutan, or whatever species of animal you call yours know just how much they mean to you. Set aside some time to thank your pets for everything they do for you: from greeting you cheerfully when you come home each day to being a shoulder to cry on and a constant source of entertainment. And in case you weren’t aware, you can also thank your pet if your kids are allergy and respiratory illness-free.

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Having a pet can help make your baby grow up healthier.

Research shows that babies who grow up in homes that have pets, particularly dogs and cats, are less likely to catch certain illnesses or develop allergies or respiratory diseases. In a study of nearly 400 children, those who grew up with dogs were less likely than children who didn’t grow up with dogs to have respiratory symptoms and ear infections or to need antibiotics. Other studies have shown that 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.

Experts believe the dirt that pets track through the house exposes babies to different types of bacteria, helping to strengthen their immune systems. Further, the dust found in homes where pets live serves to protect children from certain cold-like illnesses.

But before you run out and get a pet to raise along with your newborn, keep in mind that these studies have only looked at children whose parents do not have allergies to animals, which would predispose their children to pet allergies. It is not recommended that allergic parents expose their babies to pets because of the potential for both themselves and their babies to experience serious reactions.

Do you believe your pet helps your child stay illness and allergy free? Tell us your thoughts below.

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