RECENT research has proven what a lot of veterinarians have known for many years – dogs in the home results in healthier children.
“It is exciting to prove that children with dogs are healthier and suffer fewer infections, than children in a pet-free home,” veterinary adviser and spokesman for Dogs NSW Dr Peter Higgins said.
“It appears that children with dogs have a better immune system than those that don’t have dogs.”
The research, conducted by a university hospital in Finland, tracked and recorded respiratory diseases and other infections were over a period of one year and the results were conclusive.
Children with dogs had less respiratory problems and fewer infections and their general health was better than those children that did not have dogs as pets.
“It’s no surprise to me that children with dogs are healthier, I have noticed this quite a lot in over 20 years of being a veterinarian,” Dr Higgins said.
“This can be explained by thinking that a dog who is constantly around a child is like a continuous vaccination – it builds immunity in small doses.”
This latest research showed that dogs had to spend time outdoors to produce the best results.
The theory is that dogs bring in germs from the outside world and this builds the immune system of children in the early stages of development.
“Previous research shows that children need to be exposed to low levels of microbes from lots of different sources at an early age,” Dr Higgins said.
“This exposure builds resistance to infections and there is evidence to show a reduced number of allergy sufferers as well.”
The study concluded that fewer antibiotics were needed with those children that had dogs as pets.