Every couple plans on having a healthy baby, but somewhere we get sidetracked. It is pretty clear that you need pets for kids to keep them fully healthy.
And it’s not just about lessons on loving and losing a family member. Or why we should not torment Rover with the push bubble mower. Or just why that ear really should remain attached to Fido’s head.
Somewhere, sometime our public health officials and the government decided that there needed to be an attempt to sterilize all aspects of our lives, beginning at birth.
It begins with immunizations when the newborn is minutes old (yes–because that newborn will soon be doing IV drugs and having unprotected sex–hence the need for the Hepatitis B vaccination in the delivery room). This is further compounded by wanton use of antibiotics destroying the normal, protective bacterial flora. Add in anti-bacterial everything and you’ve got a recipe for allergies, asthma and an overall dysfunctional immune system.
So where do pets fit in?
We already know that pet owners with chronic health conditions (like high blood pressure or heart disease) live longer than non-pet owners.
Pet ownership clearly has other, not quite definable, benefits to our health.
In kids, pet ownership has been shown to slash allergy rates in half.
This particular study takes the knowledge base further. Researchers looked at how exposures to dogs and cats had an effect on respiratory and other infections in a child’s first year of life. The results were pretty promising for us animal lovers:
- Children having dogs at home were 31% healthier when it came to infections than children without dog contacts
- Children with dog contacts at home had 44% less ear infections
- The dog exposure group used antibiotics 29% less
- Overall, both the weekly and the yearly contact with dogs and cats were associated with a lower risk of dying from a respiratory infection
Sounds like a visit to the pound may be a very smart decision for your child’s health.
So what other benefits have you found from having a pet in your household?