Benefit of owning a dog is that they make children healthier
Research shows children who grew up with pets are 31% healthier and have fewer allergies than those who lived pet free. This research suggests that when animals are allowed to bring in more dirt and microbes from outdoors, it helps strengthen baby’s’ immune systems faster. Dogs also improve children’s self-esteem!
How do dogs improve a child’s health?
Article: Early Exposure to Dogs and Farm Animals and the Risk of Childhood Asthma
In this study, researchers found that exposure to dogs and farm animals during the first year of life reduced the risk of asthma.
Article: Pet Dogs and Children’s Health: Opportunities for Chronic Disease Prevention
This study found that having a pet dog was associated with having a decreased chance of childhood anxiety!
Dr. Tolly Epstein and colleagues from the University of Cincinnati and Cincinnati Children’s Hospital Medical center found that children who ARE allergic to dogs were a lot less likely to develop eczema if they owned a dog. Seems counterintuitive, but that is what they found.
Dr. Kallahalli Umesh, Waltham Scientific Communication Manager, Mars India, did research on children and dogs. He found that absenteeism because of illness was significantly less in dog owners. Dog-owning children attended school for an additional three weeks of school compared to non-dog owning children. I am trying to find the published article.
All of these studies show that dogs improve a child’s immune system. which means less missed school days and a happier healthier child.
What should you do if your child is allergic to your dog or cat?
Between 15% and 30% of people with allergies react specifically to pets, according to the Asthma and Allergy Foundation, yet many homes find a way for humans and pets to coexist. While it is true that some allergies are so severe that it is impossible for both to live in the same home, most of the time, a thorough strategy can nip the problem in the bud. Your child may be allergic to pet dander, urine, or saliva. If he or she is displaying symptoms like sneezing, coughing, or itchy eyes, or even skin rashes, seeing an allergologist is key. This specialist will give you vital information regarding what exactly is causing the problem, enabling you to set your strategy in motion.
What is Causing Your Child’s Problems?
When a child is tested for allergies, the allergologist will apply extracts of various potential allergens to the skin. These can include mites, dander, and other extracts. If your child is allergic to any of these, tiny bumps will show up at the site. If the family pet is the cause, you will need to take immediate measures to reduce the severity of symptoms. Start out by ensuring your pet is clean, groomed frequently (to reduce the amount of dander and fur that falls around the home), and is protected against ticks and fleas. Sometimes, a child may develop symptoms because of exposure to pests like fleas. In this case, the problem can easily be cleared up through responsible grooming.
Reducing the Allergenic Load at Home
Your specialist may recommend temporary removal of the dog from the home so you can conduct a deep (think a professional level) cleaning of the home. Carpets should be deep cleaned, surfaces will need to be steam vacuumed, and all bedding and soft fabrics can benefit from a hot/professional wash. Ideally, the home should be steam vacuumed at least every other day. You should also invest in a top quality HEPA filter, which will filter out particles as tiny as 0.3 microns. You should also consider replacing carpets with wood or laminate flooring since these surfaces are far easier to keep fur- and dander-free. Finally, try to ensure a nice balance between your pet’s and your child’s needs. Thus, if you have a porch or small yard, try to make it super comfortable for your pet so it spends lots of enjoyable time outside. Your dog should have shelter, warmth, plenty of shade, and soft bedding, so it feels as comfy when it is outside as when it is in. Of course, the dog should not be kept outside when the weather is too cold or hot.
What about Medication?
Specialists sometimes recommend prescription medication to counter eye/nose symptoms. Some also use immunotherapy, which is a long-term treatment that produces results over time. Sometimes, by making the changes mentioned above, you will already notice a big improvement. It is important to realize that some medication has side-effects, so these should be discussed with your doctor prior to commencement of the treatment.
Fortunately for pet-loving families, most people can live with a pet even if they are allergic to it. Through frequent washing of children’s clothing, thorough cleaning of the home, and the establishment of pet-free areas (such as the child’s bedroom), the effects of allergies can be greatly minimized. Always see an allergologist if you suspect allergies, so as to discover whether their symptoms are, in fact, related to your dog.