TODDLER Hannah Stojanovic might not know it but the licks on the face she gets from her family’s dog could be doing her a world of good.
Finnish researchers have found that having dogs or cats during infancy may protect children from respiratory illnesses during the first year of life.
The study examined 397 children from the time their mothers were pregnant until the age of one. The study found children exposed to dogs at home had fewer respiratory illnesses, ear infections and needed fewer antibiotics.
Canobolas Family Pet Hospital vet Geoff Freeth isn’t surprised. He said studies showed having pets could have multiple benefits.
“There’s studies to show people with pets don’t have as many mental illnesses, people with pets have less sick days then those that don’t,” he said.
Mr Freeth said the study demonstrated the fear that dogs are dirty is overstated.
“People tend to wrap their kids up in cotton wool,” he said.
“If people follow proper healthcare procedures with their pets there is no reason pets would be any more dirty than a human.”
Orange Health Service paediatrician Allan Kerrigan said he believed it was good for children to eat dirt and be licked by pets.
“The study fits in with the theory that environmental stimulants boosts a child’s immune system,” he said.
Mr Kerrigan said people should not put too much faith in the study.
“The sample size of 400 kids wasn’t really big enough,” he said.
“There is, however, a substantial amount of evidence to suggest kids who play in and eat dirt may have stronger immune systems.”