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Pets and Babies: A Match Made in Adorable Heaven!

 by zack on 03 Mar 2013 |
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Most pet owners know that having a dog or cat around the house can enrich their lives immeasurably. What they might not have heard is that it can be a boon for a bouncing baby as well. Acoording to recent studies, a dog or cat can have a significant impact on an infant child’s respiratory health. What are the chances?

The study comes out of Finland, a country renowned for its excellent education system and a hard line against financial corruption. They seem to be going for the feel-good hat trick with this fascinating news. This exhaustive study was undertaken by pediatricians monitoring nearly 400 children under a year old. The pediatricians looked for any health problems, defects, etc. and cross referenced that data with a weekly questionnaire presented by parents that examined their infant’s daily health and as many outlying factors as possible. Things such as siblings, daycare attendance, low weight at birth, or presence of cigarette smoke in their daily lives.

The results? Pets that spent in excess of 6 hours inside the home usually meant healthier kids. 73% of
the time to be exact. Children without pets were still fairly healthy, about 65% of the time. Still a majority, but what a statistical difference! If you were wondering whether or not to get a pet when you’re expecting, just know that dogs and cats give your baby a 7% head start on healthy living.
As to what it breaks down to between cats and dogs, both showed a big statistical difference in infant health, but the stronger showing goes to canines. After all, cats infrequently have a pesky habit of sleeping on top of children to keep warm, that’s not all that good for a newborn.
There were a range of individual health benefits, but the infants benefited most from their pets by contracting less ear infections and requiring less antibiotics. There was also a marked difference in the amount of fevers experienced by infants with dogs that spent time outside.

But the question remains: why do dogs and cats prevent health issues in babies? The answer is pretty simple. Infants who are exposed to more bacteria, tracked inside along with dirt from the pet’s footsteps, develop stronger immune systems with which to fight off infections. So having a dog or cat serves as environmental training wheels for your baby to practice dealing with the elements.

This research confirms what common sense has been telling parents for years. Interaction with a fluffy fun loving critter is just plain good for kids and adults alike.  The study can be read in its entirety here. It’s a fascinating read, and one more check in the pro column for pet lovers everywhere. So the moral of the story is don’t be afraid to expose your child to the outdoors or any pet on all fours, both can benefit your baby a great deal. So give your pet an extra treat for their life saving potential today!


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