Being an avid dog lover (just not really a cat person, although I would still put my car in a ditch before I’d even hit a rat on the road), I’ve always felt that there are a lot of lessons to be learned from having an animal for children. Love, compassion, loss, what to do with food you don’t want….
But here’s an added benefit.
This particular study found that having a dog in the household had lower levels of the immune cell TNF-alpha at birth as well as one year later. While TNF-alpha is important, an over production of TNF-alpha is linked to autoimmune conditions like rheumatoid arthritis and inflammatory bowel disease.
It goes along with the “hygiene hypothesis” where we believe that proper immune development requires exposure to “stuff” like bacteria and allergens like dog dander. This article supports the idea that having a dog as a newborn helps to tone the immune system. Sorry cat lovers…not the same effect..