Study: Babies who live with dogs are healthier
The authors of the study tracked the health of 400 babies, and sent the families weekly questionnaires from the time the kids were 9 weeks old until they turned 1.
Here’s what they found: A child under the age of 1 who regularly plays with an outdoor dog — that is, a pup who spends just six hours of its time inside each day — will build a stronger, healthier immune system in the long run. Kids living in homes with such dogs were illness-free 73 percent of the time, whereas children living in homes without pets were healthy only about 65 percent of the time. Overall, dog-friendly babies “had fewer ear infections, and they needed less antibiotics,” says lead author Eija Bergroth.
One explanation: “Pets that spent more time outdoors brought more dirt into their homes, giving babies more opportunities to encounter it.” The thinking goes that this strengthens a child’s immune system and causes natural defenses to mature faster than they normally would.