Can Dogs Prevent Childhood Asthma?

Dogs are beloved members of many families. They offer unconditional love, reduce stress levels, encourage exercise, and even lower blood pressure. And now, research has shown they might also reduce cases of childhood asthma.

According to research presented at the 2012 General Meeting of the American Society for Microbiology, children who live in homes with dogs may be less likely to develop asthma. In the study, researchers from the University of California, San Francisco fed house dust from homes with dogs to mice. Compared to a control group, the mice exposed to this dust had increased immunity to the respiratory syncytial virus (RSV), which is associated with childhood asthma.

While still in its early stages, the research suggests that children who spend time around dogs might have a similar immunity to this virus. This is exciting news for dog-lovers, especially since a study last year proved there’s no such thing as hypoallergenic dogs.

Despite all their health benefits, dogs can cause problems when it comes to indoor air quality, bringing dander, dust and odors into the home. We love our dogs, though, and for many of us putting up with the dander and dirt is a small price to pay for the companionship — and health benefits! — of a loving pet.

Luckily, there are plenty of ways to keep your living space healthy while sharing it with dogs. Here are some housekeeping tips for sharing your home with furry friends:

  • Vacuum regularly with a HEPA vacuum. Don’t forget to hit dog beds, couches, and behind furniture.
  • Use an air purifier that removes pet dander and odors. Remember that ones with HEPA and light carbon filters are best, since carbon removes odors, and HEPA filters remove tiny particles.
  • Steam clean dog beds regularly.
  • Avoid chemical-based flea treatments, choosing natural ones instead. Try placing a few drops of eucalyptus oil on your dog’s collar and eucalyptus leaves under dog bedding, for instance, to drive away fleas. Eucalyptus oil won’t kill fleas, but it will repel them. For more natural flea control tips, check out “Simple Tips for Safe Flea Control” in Mother Earth News.

Taking a few simple steps like these will help you to gain all the benefits of living with a dog while keeping your home clean and healthy.

What do you think? Do you love your dog? Have you noticed health benefits from living with your canine friend? What tips do you have for keeping your air and your dog’s bedding clean? Share your thoughts in the comments section, and for more helpful tips about air quality, connect with us on Facebook or Twitter!

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1 Comment

  1. Steve

    oh boy, I’m certainly not going to show my kids this article… yet another reason to use against me!

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