Study Proves: More Childhood Pets, Less Chance for Allergies

Angela Vuckovic
by Angela Vuckovic
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By analyzing data from previous studies, a team of researchers realized that increased exposure to animals in childhood means more protection from allergies.

It seems that sharing childhood with Fido and Fluffy doesn’t just make for great memories, but it leaves you with another benefit down the road. A Swedish team of scientists claims that the more animals children come in contact with, the lower their chance of developing allergies later in life.

The idea that having a childhood pet minimizes the potential for allergies in adulthood is not a new one. Studies have proven that exposure to pets early in life promotes healthy gut flora and minimizes obesity risk, as well as lower chances of asthma, eczema, and allergies. However, the research that Bill Hesselmar at the University of Gothenburg, Sweden, did with his colleagues looks at the dose-dependent part of this mutually beneficial relationship. What does this mean? Well, to put it simply: the more, the merrier. Or, in this case- healthier!

According to data from previously done studies on the subject of pets and allergies, the more pets a family had, the lower the child’s chances of having allergies. Both the large-scale study and the smaller research back this theory up, but this dose-dependent relationship has been overlooked until now.

The reason for this is that it’s not just the number of pets that matters, but the exposure to them. Unless the kid is in close contact with all those pets the family has, there won’t be any exposure to allergens, and, therefore, no immunity to them. Similarly, children living on a farm or that are otherwise in close contact with livestock are also more protected from adult-onset allergies.

It seems that next time your young one asks for a bunny to keep company to family’s cat, dog, and hamster, you can’t say no. The scientists said so, after all.

Angela Vuckovic
Angela Vuckovic

A proud mama to seven dogs and ten cats, Angela spends her days writing for her fellow pet parents and pampering her furballs, all of whom are rescues. When she's not gushing over her adorable cats or playing with her dogs, she can be found curled up with a good fantasy book.

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