Benefits of Pet Ownership, from Babies to Teens

by on July 20th, 2011 at 7:00 am

Most adult pet owners can agree that pet ownership offers many rewards, but a few recent studies have even shown that children may benefit from having a pet in the household as well, from potentially reducing the risk of allergies to helping kids stay active.

Results from the Detroit Childhood Allergy Study, which has spanned 18 years, shows that pet exposure during the first year of life lowered the risk of developing allergies for most children. Both girls and boys studied had about half the risk of being sensitized to cats later on, with boys’ sensitivity to dogs consistently reduced in half as well. Girls exposed to a dog at home during the first year of life were the anomaly to the study, and actually showed an increased risk of being sensitized.

Other studies, including one from the University of Cincinnati, showed different results, finding that early exposure to dogs did not seem to put children at risk for allergic reactions later on, although that was not the case with cats. Regardless, studies do seem to agree that pet ownership offers beneficial effects.

Another study from the University of Virginia in Charlottesville showed that teens in families with dogs may be in better shape and less likely to be overweight, as they get on average 15 more minutes per week of vigorous physical activity.

An interesting point of the study was the fact that kids were benefiting from the pet ownership, whereas researchers anticipated that dog-walking responsibilities and subsequent health benefits would be with the adults, not the kids.


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