Swedish researchers found that exposure to dogs during infancy was associated with a 13 percent lower risk of asthma in school-age children, while farm animal exposure was linked to a 52 percent risk reduction.
“To let children have a pet in their home is likely to enrich the family life in many ways, and perhaps also enriches the child’s microbiome and immune system,” said lead study author Tove Fall of Uppsala University in Sweden.
The findings don’t prove that puppies prevent asthma, but they do suggest that parents have nothing to fear from the family dog, at least as far as breathing is concerned.
The researchers studied data on over one million children born in Sweden from 2001 through 2010.
“It might be due to a single factor or more likely, a combination of several factors related to dog ownership lifestyle or dog owner’s attitudes, such as kids’ exposure to household dirt and pet dust, time spent outdoors or being physically active,” Fall explained.
The study is published in the journal JAMA Pediatrics.