Having a Dog is Good For Your Kid’s Health

Another awesome reason that dogs really are man’s best friend: kids with dogs are healthier.

April 27, 2017
By: Amanda Mushro

Photo by: iStock

iStock

Today is National Kids and Pets Day and if your kids have been begging to add a four-legged friend to your family, they now have science on their side. Yes, our dogs give us unconditional love and sometimes chewed up shoes, but here's another awesome reason that dogs really are man's best friend: kids with dogs are healthier.

A study published in the journal Nature says having a dog around not only benefits your child's emotional health but also increases good bacteria that helps to keep your kids healthier.

The study examined 24 four-month-old infants--actually, they studied their fecal samples--gross- but you know, science. Of the 24 babies, 15 lived in houses with either one or more dogs or cats, and the other children lived in puppy-less homes.

Researchers found that infants that had pets in their homes had a greater diversity of bacteria in their guts than those children who lived without pets. While this sounds gross, it's actually a good thing. Two of the microbes found, Ruminococcus and Oscillospira, have been linked to lower risk of allergies and obesity in other studies. So having these bacteria in our system is actually a good thing.

This new study helps to support two decades of research that says children who grow up with dogs have lower rates of asthma than those who do not. So your stinky dog can actually help you breathe easier. Also, many researchers attribute these finding to what they call the "hygiene hypothesis." Basically, all that exposure to dirt early in life can ward off allergic diseases later in life. So right before you put your pooch in the bath, give them a quick thank you for the mess.

So the next time you ask your kids to grab the leash and take Fido for a walk, tell them it's all for their health--and not because you are sick of walking the dog.

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