From: Roger Greenway, ENN
Published January 7, 2014 08:08 AM

I just knew dogs were good for you!

Who doesn't love a cute puppy? Too bad they have to grow up to be a dog! Not really, dogs are loved too and many become an important part of a family. But does having a dog (or more than one) in the same house as an infant benefit the infant or put it at risk? The safety of having a dog in the same house should be paramount, and aggressive dogs should not be left alone with an infant. Fortunately, the benefits of having a dog or two are significant. The University of California at San Francisco has published some interesting research findings related to dogs and children's health.

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The research showed that children's risk for developing allergies and asthma is reduced when they are exposed in early infancy to a dog in the household, and why this is so.

Exposure of mice to dust from houses where canine pets are permitted both indoors and outdoors can reshape the community of microbes that live in the mouse gut -- collectively known as the gastrointestinal micro biome -- and also diminish immune system reactivity to common allergens, according to a new study by researchers led by Susan Lynch, PhD, associate professor with the Division of Gastroenterology at UC San Francisco, and Nicholas Lukacs, PhD, professor with the Department of Pathology at the University of Michigan.

The scientists also identified a specific bacterial species within the gut that is critical to protecting the airways against both allergens and viral respiratory infection.

The study, funded by the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases (NIAID), is published online this week in the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences (PNAS) and involves a multi-disciplinary group of researchers from UCSF, the University of Michigan, Henry Ford Health System and Georgia Regents University.

The results were obtained in studies of mice challenged with allergens after earlier exposure to dust from homes with dogs, but the results also are likely to explain the reduced allergy risk among children raised with dogs from birth, according to the study leaders.

In their study, the scientists exposed mice to cockroach or protein allergens. They discovered that asthma-associated inflammatory responses in the lungs were greatly reduced in mice previously exposed to dog-associated dust, in comparison to mice that were exposed to dust from homes without pets or mice not exposed to any dust.

Little girl walking dog in meadow image via Shutterstock.

Read more at University of California at San Francisco.

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