Many parents may not want to hear this but it is true…dogs improve our health.
There is a growing body of evidence showing that we have become too clean for our own good. Our constant disinfecting, scrubbing, and vacuuming is filtering out the mix of microscopic creatures that our immune system needs to develop properly.
In our early years of life, we spend over 90 percent of our time in a bacteria-poor indoor environment. These early years are a critical time for when our immune system is developing. This bacteria-poor environment can cause our bodies to overreact to harmless substances later on in life, making us sick.
Dogs roll in the mud, sniff poop and other substances and then track numerous germs into our homes on their snouts, fur, and paws. Exposure to animal micro-organisms during the first year of life helps to stimulate a child’s immune system so that it does not become overly sensitive later in life.
Studies have shown that children who grow up in households with dogs have a lower risk for developing autoimmune illnesses such as allergies and asthma. An allergy is our immune system “attacking” something that it should not attack, because it has not been “calibrated” properly. When we are deprived of contact with an array of micro-organisms, our immune system loses the ability to distinguish between friend and foe. Dogs add a lot to the diversity of the indoor microbiome. Research has shown that dog ownership raised the levels of 56 different classes of bacterial species in the indoor environment.
Dogs can do more than teach responsibility and provide companionship for your child – they can help boost their immune system too! Next time your sweet child begs for a dog, you may want to reconsider your answer.