Open in the curiosity app
Kids With Pets Have Fewer Allergies

Kids With Pets Have Fewer Allergies

It seems like people these days have all sorts of dietary restrictions—no peanuts, no wheat, no lactose, no shellfish, no eggs, no soy. What if we told you that these debilitating allergies could've been prevented if their parents had raised them with a pet or two? Yep, your mom should've bought you that puppy, after all.

Related: Pets Can Have Human Allergies

Get Dirty With The Hygiene Hypothesis

A 2002 study published in JAMA showed that children exposed to two or more pets during the first year were 66 to 77 percent less likely to have "allergic sensitization to multiple allergens during childhood." Why? It has to do with your gastrointestinal microbiome, or the bacteria inside your gut. In a 2013 study, researchers introduced dust from a house with a canine to lab mice. When these mice came into contact with cockroach or egg allergens, their asthma symptoms were significantly reduced. This is largely to do with a bacteria called Lactobacillus johnsonii that was found in the microbiome of the protected mice, ostensibly because of that dog dust. The same thing may be true when your little ones are born into a household with pets.

Related: Sucking Your Baby's Pacifier May Provide Allergy Protection

The growing body of evidence backing early exposure to allergens relates to the hygiene hypothesis, or the theory that the more germs we're exposed to, the better we can resist them. Routine exposure to two or more pets during the first few years of life has the most dramatic impact on a child's immune system. So how old should your kiddo be exposed? Doctors say, the younger the better. Johns Hopkins says that the protective effects of germs, pet dander, and insects disappear after baby's first year.

Two Pets Not Enough? Move To A Farm.

The American Academy of Allergy Asthma and Immunology (AAAAI) notes that if you really want to protect your kids from allergies, you should maybe consider moving to... a farm? Before you move your family to live out your Pinterest farmhouse dreams, please consult your physician. It's important to remember that allergies can be genetic, and parents shouldn't put their own health at risk. Perhaps instead, you should take a stroll by your local animal shelter and adopt a new best friend. (You can blame it on us.)

Related: You Can Be Allergic To Water

Is there something you're curious about? Email us at editors (at) curiosity.com. And follow Curiosity on Facebook, Instagram and Twitter.

Watch And Learn: Our Favorite Videos About Pets And Allergies

Pets Are Good For Your Child's Immune System

It's all part of the hygiene hypothesis.

Share the knowledge!
play_circle_filled replay

Your dog can protect you before you're born

If your mother lives with a dog or cat when she's pregnant with you, you're about 30 percent less likely to suffer from allergies as a child.

Share the knowledge!
play_circle_filled replay

Key Facts In This Video

  1. Bacteria left around the house by dogs and cats provide pregnant women with unseen health benefits. 00:20

  2. In the past 40 years, children living in the Western hemisphere have experienced overreactions to simple allergens at almost double the rate. 01:42

Pets Can Have Human Allergies

Both dogs and cats can have allergic reactions to human dander, which consists of cells shed from our hair.

A more curious you.

Join millions of lifelong learners