Messy Dogs Might Just Be The Key To Healthy Kids

By Sarah Jeanne Terry

If you thought your dog's tendency to track mud, dirt, and other messes into your house was a negative, then you may want to think again.

Child and dog.
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According to the _New York Times_, studies show that dogs actually make us healthier by keeping our houses a little messy. That may sound counterintuitive, but it turns out that being exposed to some germs allows our bodies to better respond to germs and other invaders. And this is especially true for our kids.

These days, we've become a little too obsessed with keeping our inside environments germ-free.

We try our best to eliminate germs from our homes and offices, but the truth is, not all these germs are bad for us. And regardless, we can never fully escape from them.

Our homes contain 125,000 types of bacteria, over 70,000 different kinds of fungi, and we shed about 38 million bacteria from our bodies into the world every day. So we're really fighting an uphill battle trying to eliminate all the bacteria. Plus, if we spend too much time in spaces without germs, our bodies tend to overreact when we venture out into the bacteria-filled world. That's why living with a certain amount of bacteria can actually be really good for your health.

And our dogs can't help but track in germs and dirt, and they're actually keeping us healthier by being a little messy.

dirty dog
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A recent study shows that having dogs in your house diversifies the environment inside your home. That means you're exposed to more types of germs and microbes. And that's a good thing. Even though some of the bacteria our animals track in isn't always good for us, the pros definitely outweigh the cons.

Studies show that kids that grow up with dogs in the house have a lower risk for autoimmune disorders.

girl with husky in field
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When we don't have regular interaction with germs and microbes, our bodies might overreact when they come in contact with them. And it's very essential, early in our kids' lives, when their immune systems are still being formed. We don't want them to develop conditions caused by immune overreaction.

Jordan Peccia, a professor of environmental engineering at Yale explained, "Allergies and asthma are both examples of the way that the immune system is misfiring. An allergy is our immune system attacking something that it shouldn't attack, because it hasn't been calibrated properly."

A study showed that Amish children who grew up around farm animals had a lower chance for asthma than kids raised away from animals. Obviously, we can't all grow up on a farm, but having a pet may be the next best thing.

Happy young boy lovingly hugging his pet dog
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So the next time you want to chide your furry friend for tracking mud all over the house, remember that they might be helping you and your kids live stronger, happier lives.