Every parent wants to do what is best for their children. But, is having a family dog, a good idea, especially when it comes to asthma in kids? Well, I strongly woof you to appreciate that Fido has served your children well and has actually reduced their chances of developing childhood asthma!
What Is Asthma?
Asthma is a sporadic inflammatory disease that affects the airways and the lungs and is one of the leading chronic inflammatory diseases in children worldwide. Often, it presents as tightness in the chest, shortness of breath and wheezing sounds. It can be very scary to experience!
What Causes Asthma?
Asthma is often triggered by airborne environmental and genetic factors that include:
Asthma cannot be cured completely; but with a proper lifestyle, it can be well managed and controlled. However, what if we could drastically reduce the risk of developing it in the first place?
How dogs can reduce the risk of childhood asthma
Research confirms that having a family dog could have several health benefits, including decreasing your child’s risk of developing asthma. According to a research carried out by Dr. Tove Fall, a professor of epidemiology at the Uppsala University, children from the time of birth, raised with dogs, had an estimated 15% decreased asthma cases than children who were not raised with dogs.
This Swedish nation-wide study tracked 650,000 babies and found that babies who live on farms or have frequent exposure to farm animals within the first year of life, can reduce their risk of asthma by 52%. The results were robust and independent of parental asthma or whether the child was first-born.
Furthermore, kids who grow up with family dogs have a 15% lower risk of developing asthma, compared to kids who did not grow up with a dog.
Later, a 2018 follow up study was done to determine if the sex of dog or number of dogs would have an impact on results and here’s what it showed.
- Children exposed to female dogs had lower risk of asthma compared to those exposed to male dogs.
- Children with two dogs or more had lower risk of asthma than those with one dog only!
What we have learned from these studies is that pregnant women and young children can safely play and share time with farm animals and dogs knowing that it may indeed be serving them well. Especially when it comes to asthma in kids! The idea is that animals provide the body exposure to germs and microbes which improve immune function.
However, if your children are older and have allergy induced asthma from dogs, adding a family dog to the equation is not the answer! Research showed that exposure within the first year of life reduced the risks of asthma. This doesn’t necessarily mean your family can’t have a dog. There are some low to non-shedding breeds that some allergy and asthma sufferers are not sensitive to. These breeds include but are not limited to:
It is important to meet and share time with a possible future fur-family member to test allergy sensitivity before making the commitment. If you are thinking of planning a family in the future, maybe having Fido join the team first would be a strategic health move!