Having a dog protects against asthma and infection, study says

BY newsdesk  December 17, 2013 at 12:41 PM EDT


A new study shows why children raised in households with dogs have a lower risk of asthma and allergies. Photo by Flickr user Junayed Sadat

Dog owners already know their four-legged friend is good for their health, but they have more proof thanks to a recent study from scientists at the University of California San Francisco and University of Michigan.

A study published in the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences found that a child’s risk of developing asthma and allergies is reduced if the child is exposed to a dog in a household during infancy.
While the results of the study come from mice, researchers believe the results explain the reduced allergy risk of children who were raised in homes with dogs from birth. Researchers found microbes that live in the gut of mice changed when exposed to dogs and that those microbes diminished the immune systems response to common allergens.

“The results of our study indicate that this is likely to be one mechanism through which the environment influences immune responses in early life, and it is something we are currently examining using human samples in a large multi-institutional collaborative study funded by the NIAID,” said Susan Lynch, PhD, associate professor with the Division of Gastroenterology at UC San Francisco.

“Gut microbiome manipulation represents a promising new therapeutic strategy to protect individuals against both pulmonary infection and allergic airway disease.”

So, if you were raised in a household with a dog, how are your allergies?

H/T Bridget Shirvell