Growing up with dogs is arguably the best way to experience childhood. The natural playful personalities of pups combined with the curiosity and imagination of a child is nothing short of magical.
But a new study originally presented at a major allergy doctor's annual meeting suggests that dogs may provide even more service to children than just being furry playmates. They may actually reduce symptoms of both allergic reactions related to eczema and asthma.
Two separate studies linked certain heath benefits to dog ownership in young children. The first study showed that babies born into homes where a dog was present during pregnancy seemed to have more protection from allergic eczema.
In fact, children born into homes that had at least one dog were less likely to develop any signs of childhood eczema by 2-years-old. Though by age 10 the protection seemed to wear off, it's still an extremely significant finding considering many causes of childhood eczema are still mysterious.
The second study suggested that even children allergic to dogs may experience reduction in asthmatic symptoms from certain types of non-allergen bacterial exposure. Basically, when children were exposed to some bacterias that dogs can carry, they found decreased asthmatic symptoms.
Of course, dogs weren't a cure-all. Exposure to the allergen that triggers a dog allergy still had a harmful affect on children and may even make the symptoms worse. So just because your canine companion may help reduce some symptoms doesn't mean you should automatically put them in the face of children who have other allergies.
Researchers also emphasized they'll need to do plenty more tests before they truly understand the link – positive or negative – between dogs and allergies in children. But these early findings seem to suggest what most people already knew: Dogs and kids are pretty much a perfect pairing.