Research suggests that growing up with a dog or a cat is good for children. A study published last week in JAMA Pediatrics, found that children who had a dog in the first years of their life are 13% less likely to develop asthma by the age of 6 years, that children growing up in households without pets.

The survey used a Swedish registry that contains the data of more than one million children. They found that children who grow up on farms and animals coexist daily had a 50% lower risk of having the young asthma. These results are consistent with the hypothesis “hygiene”, who thinks that children are more likely to develop allergies if they grow up in environment “ultra-clean” explains Dr. Luisa Dillner, head of the BMJ Group Research and Development, in The Guardian.

Dogs offer better protection than cats

A study of 397 Finnish infants, published in the journal Pediatrics in 2012 had already shown that babies whose parents have dogs or cats had fewer colds and ear infections. They also had less need antibiotics than others.

Cats and dogs are the most common pets. There is no tangible evidence that cats help reduce allergies. It seems that dogs provide better protections.

In addition, animals that spend less than six hours a day in the house and outside are often offer more protective effects. Scientists believe this is due to the fact that the external environment helps to stimulate the immune system of the child.

Other benefits

Apart health, the general environment and the family situation also benefit from the presence of a pet. Indeed, animals increase the time spent with family and the amount of fun felt. Having an animal also allows children to learn to take responsibility, to exercise in the outgoing (if it is a dog for example), and to cope with loss when the animal dies.

However, the health benefits will not alone justify the presence of a pet. We must not forget that they also have their disadvantages, including having worms or other parasites.