Can owning a dog change the risk of our kids developing allergies?
A study published back in 2004 investigated dog ownership and whether it was protective for allergic disorders including food allergy and eczema.
This study looked at cat and dog ownership and found that dog ownership alone was associated with lower incidences of eczema and allergic sensitization, including food allergies.
When they further explored how dog ownership may play a role in allergy they found that having a dog had a positive effect on the immune system, as measured by two immune interleukins including the anti-inflammatory IL-10. Interleukins are messenger signals of the immune system involved in launching an immune response.
Since this study the effect of pet ownership has been examined multiple times, in many cases the same protective effect of owning a dog has been shown, although in some cases there is no net effect observed.
These findings may suggest that owning a dog could help protect children in early life against the development of allergies, although there are many other factors that contribute too.
Whilst this study shows a promising environmental protective effect our genetics play a very important role too!