Exposure to Dogs Protects Children from Eczema and Asthma, Study Finds

It turns out that dogs may have more to offer than just excellent companionship. Two studies that were recently presented at the American College of Allergy, Asthma and Immunology (ACAAI) Annual Scientific Meeting found that children exposed to dogs at a young age (even beginning with a mother’s exposure during pregnancy) receive protection from allergic eczema as well as asthma.

According to Science Daily, the first study “examined mother-child pairs exposed to a dog. ‘Exposure’ was defined as keeping one or more dogs indoors for at least one hour daily. ‘We found a mother’s exposure to dogs before the birth of a child is significantly associated with lower risk of eczema by age 2 years, but this protective effect goes down at age 10,’ says allergist Edward M. Zoratti, MD, ACAAI member and a study co-author.”

In the second study, children in Baltimore who suffered from asthma were exposed to two different elements from dogs: bacteria that a dog might carry, and the protein, or allergen, that is associated with a dog allergy. The results showed that children with asthma receive a protective effect from non-allergen exposure to dogs, but experience a harmful effect from the allergen on dogs.

It is important for people with allergies to dogs to limit their exposure to the animal, such as keeping the pet out of the bedroom, bathing him at least once per week, and washing hands often. But for those who are not allergic to dogs, man’s best friend offers more than just protection from burglars — he can offer protection from eczema and asthma as well.