If you love dogs as much as I do, you understand the numerous advantages of having a pet in your life. But according to recent studies, having a pet, particularly a dog, may also help your baby’s health.
In the United States, 67% of households have a pet, and more than 63% of those pets are dogs, according to the 2019–2020 National Pet Owners Survey.
Numerous studies have demonstrated the health advantages of pet ownership, including:
A growing body of research also suggests that contact with domestic animals, especially dogs, during pregnancy and early childhood may boost immunity and reduce the baby’s risk of developing health issues like allergies and asthma.
I asked my UT Southwestern pediatrician colleague and expert in allergies and immunology, Andrew Bird, M.D., to speak about the possible advantages a dog companion may have on the health of your unborn child.
Do dogs aid infants?
July 9, 2012 — According to Finnish researchers, infants raised in households with dogs experience fewer colds, ear infections, and antibiotic needs during their first year of life than infants raised in homes without pets.
According to research by Eija Bergroth, MD, of Finland’s Kuopio University Hospital, and colleagues, homes with cats are also healthier for infants, though not to the same amount as those with dogs.
According to earlier research, children reared on farms get asthma significantly less frequently than other youngsters. And according to some research, children who live with dogs are less likely to have colds than other children.
Bergroth’s team observed 397 Finnish youngsters from their third trimester of pregnancy through their first 12 months of life to have a better understanding of the condition. Weekly diaries were filled out by parents, who provided thorough information on their child’s health and interactions with dogs and cats.
Children in homes with dogs, as opposed to children in homes without pets, were found to:
Why do dogs interact with babies so well?
There is a reason dogs are dubbed “best friends” because of the evident relationship that exists between canines and people “(After all, a man’s best buddy). They are adaptable beings that form bonds with humans, including young children.
Dogs are incredibly social animals, just like us. Dog Savvy Los Angeles’s chief canine behaviorist and trainer, Alexandra Bassett, states, “All dogs have a mate-seeking urge and den instincts; these traits are referred to as their “pack drive.” When a dog has a strong pack drive and is closely connected to his family, it makes sense that he would become protective of a newborn child.
Canines are smitten with newborns and can develop close relationships as a result of their prolonged interaction. A baby’s yearning for a playmate and a dog’s want for someone to pay attention are similar, especially in young puppies.
The special bond your child will form with your dog may be advantageous to their growth on both a physical and psychological level. The fact that dogs make babies happy is one of the most important advantages. It has also been demonstrated that socializing with dogs increases levels of serotonin and dopamine, the neurotransmitters that underlie happy emotions. And they’re just enjoyable to be around.
In addition to being adorable, studies has shown that children who grow up around dogs are less likely to have certain allergies and typically have stronger immune systems, according to Caleb Backe, a Pet Health and Wellness Expert with Maple Holistics. “According to Backe, human babies are often happier, healthier, and more protected when there is a dog nearby.
Another fascinating aspect is that dogs have feelings as well, which allows them to pick up on various signs and nuances. For instance, they can detect a baby’s vulnerability and safety. Don’t be alarmed if you see a dog sniff or lick a baby’s face or behind—the dog is simply testing the baby’s health. A mother dog would perform these things for her puppies.
Canines also have great, enhanced senses because of their scent glands. A dog has a remarkable sense of smell; he can pick up on even the tiniest scents, like human fingerprints that are seven days old “According to Russell Hartstein, a licensed dog trainer and behaviorist based in Los Angeles, the new smells, sights, and sounds experienced by a newborn baby are all particular to the dog. Preparing your dog for a new arrival or introducing new things gradually might help reduce your dog’s anxiety because changes in a dog’s surroundings can be stressful.
Each dog should receive early instruction on how to behave around young children. With a newborn, a dog reacts to the verbal and nonverbal instructions from his humans. This means that when owners act in a calm, protective manner, the dog can pick up on being sensitive and wary. The secret is to start early with routine, calm socializing and training to develop a dog’s protective and dependable behavior toward a child. Don’t be reluctant to seek the assistance of a qualified trainer if your dog displays issues that you feel are beyond your capacity to handle.
No matter how great and well-behaved your dog may be, or how much your child may adore your pet, your dog should never substitute for a babysitter or be left alone with a young child.
What’s he thinking?
Dogs display a wide range of bizarre, amusing, and even unsettling, eccentric behaviors. Ever ponder his thoughts and the causes of his actions? Get this e-book to learn more.
Why are puppies beneficial for infants?
Pets make for healthier babies, so acquire that adorable puppy for yet another reason. Having a pet can enhance a baby’s good gut flora, decreasing the chances of allergies and obesity, according to a recent study.
Should a dog kiss the face of a child?
For many reasons, dogs might lick a baby’s face. It could be attempting to play with the infant or attempting to establish its superiority over the youngster. In either case, it should be prohibited for the sake of everyone’s health and safety.
Dogs’ mouths are full of bacteria that are easily transmitted to humans. For infants and adults with compromised immune systems, this is especially dangerous. Both are more likely to catch parasites and diseases from dogs. A dog should not be permitted to lick a baby’s face, despite the fact that it may appear cute. In fact, even for healthy individuals, I don’t advise it. If your puppy enjoys giving the family’s grownups “kisses,” let them lick your hand before washing it off fully right away.
A dangerous dynamic that could result in the dog biting the newborn can be created if a dog is licking a baby’s face to demonstrate its dominance. It’s best to prevent your dog from acting domineering toward your kids. It’s also crucial to teach kids proper dog behavior as early as possible, such as not pulling the dog’s ears or tail or sitting or lying on it.
Why do dogs guard young children?
With a man’s best buddy, we have an incredible bond. Their fidelity, devotion, and love of being around us produce a bond that is truly unparalleled. In fact, the link between them is so strong that some pet owners claim their dogs will protect young children.
In truth, dogs have shielded and guarded babies in several media tales over the years. It seems possible that they are naturally good at it.
I made the decision to research it a little further, starting with the initial query of why dogs guard babies and then on to a more thorough investigation.
Why do dogs guard young children? Because of the connection they have formed with the family, dogs frequently defend human infants. Dogs exhibit both a pack mentality and some herding instincts. This could imply that they protect and watch over the pack’s human infants.
However, this isn’t always the case, and not all dogs will instinctively protect infants in your home. In reality, it happens frequently that dogs will grow envious of human infants and may even harm or even kill them. Never leave your child unattended with a dog.
However, many dogs will exhibit a sweet instinct to guard your child; therefore, let’s examine why that might be.
Do dogs behave differently toward babies?
It is true that dogs frequently behave differently around young children and appear to take extra precautions to protect them from harm. Although dogs are more likely to guard infants and young children, this does not indicate that they truly comprehend what babies are or what humans call them.
Which dog is the greatest for infants?
These puppies are frequently named the smartest of all dog breeds for a reason. They are delightfully intelligent and highly lively.
They will take it very seriously and do well at it, just like they do with any task you assign them, if you ask them to help you herd, raise, and defend your infant.
They’ll be content and even useful family members as long as you can keep them active and stimulated.
Do puppies help a baby’s immune system?
Although you might be hesitant to let your dog kiss your infant, doing so could help keep your youngster healthy.
Family dogs, in particular, have a beneficial influence on children’s respiratory systems, according to Finnish researchers. Compared to infants who are not exposed to animals, babies who have early interaction with cats or dogs are 30% less likely to get colds, ear infections, and coughing.
According to a research in JAMA Pediatrics, children from families with dogs had a 13 percent lower risk of developing asthma than those without dogs. Additionally, the likelihood that some allergies and eczema would strike children who are raised with dogs is lower.
Will my dog devour my child?
You shouldn’t have to worry about your dog eating her puppies if she is mature, healthy, and otherwise well-behaved. It’s an uncommon behavior with usually obvious underlying explanations.
It is regrettable, but canine cannibalism does occur. Thankfully, you won’t likely encounter it, and if you do, there are steps you can take to ensure that it never occurs again.
Are dogs harmful to infants?
Pregnancy with a dog and having a baby with a dog may reduce the baby’s chances of allergies and asthma. If you love dogs as much as I do, you understand the numerous advantages of having a pet in your life. But according to recent studies, having a pet, particularly a dog, may also help your baby’s health.
Does dog saliva hurt young children?
“If your dog enjoys playing with children and has been trained to behave properly around them, you can introduce your child to your dog at a young age. It truly depends on how well-mannered your dog is around kids “says Nikole Gipps, a Concord, California-based animal behaviorist. Even at the age of six months, many infants show interest in stroking dogs. As long as your dog enjoys the attention and you keep a tight check on your infant at all times, that is acceptable. Even if your dog is a well-behaved, mellow family pet, never leave a youngster alone with one. You never know what might frighten a dog. Young children are frequently not as tolerated by older dogs, and puppies can be unpredictable.
Your child won’t be prepared for genuine “play” until she is much older, such as throwing a ball, issuing commands, or chasing. As soon as your child starts expressing interest in dogs, start teaching them how to behave around dogs. That involves leaving dogs alone while they are eating, sleeping, sick, or chewing on a bone and refraining from yanking ears or tails, hitting, or making fun of dogs.
Teach your child to speak more quietly and to avoid making rapid movements when she is interacting with the dog. Teach your youngster to check with the pet’s owner to see if an unfamiliar animal is friendly and if petting is permitted before approaching it. She should initially offer her closed fist for the dog to sniff as a means of introducing herself before she asks for permission to pet a dog. In the event that the dog tries to nip, this will shield her fingers. Do not allow your youngster to approach a dog that is loose in your neighborhood or a park. And unless the owner is present and you may seek permission, never approach a dog that is restrained, even if you know the dog and it seems nice.
Some parents fear that when dogs lick or slobber on their children, the pathogens will be transferred to the children. It is true that dogs’ lips may contain bacteria, particularly if they have recently been chewing on unhygienic objects. However, since germs are typically species-specific, it is unlikely that your child may become ill from dog germs. Some scientists even believe that by taxing children’s immune systems, exposure to dogs and dog drool can help youngsters avoid allergies and asthma later in life. Therefore, while you certainly don’t want your dog regularly “kissing” your newborn, a few licks here and there are not cause for concern.