New research shows that having pets around children at an early age could help protect them from developing pet allergies later in life. Children who are exposed to pets during infancy may be less likely to become allergic to dogs and cats, according to an 18-year study published in June in the medical journal Clinical and Experimental Allergy.
Researchers at Henry Ford Hospital in Detroit found that babies younger than one who lived with pets were much less likely to develop sensitivity to animals than kids who got a family pet later in childhood.
Not only do children who grow up with pets have less risk of allergies and asthma, many also learn responsibility, compassion, and empathy from having pets. Unlike parents, pets are never critical and don’t give orders. They are always loving and their mere presence at home can help provide a sense of security in children. Having an ever-present dog or cat, for example, can help ease separation anxiety in children when mom and dad aren’t around. Studies have also shown that pets can help calm hyperactive or overly aggressive kids. Of course, both the pet and the child need to be trained to behave appropriately with each other. Check out Helpguide for other therapeutic benefits of having pets.