Transcript: Are Cats or Dogs More Protective for Children’s Health?
Below is an approximation of this video’s audio content. To see any graphs, charts, graphics, images, and quotes to which Dr. Greger may be referring, watch the above video.
To my surprise, “studies of the effects of pets on human health and well-being have [evidently] produced a mishmash of conflicting results.” Some studies show pets lower your blood pressure—in fact, in some cases, more than even drugs do. But, other studies found no effect, or even that pet owners have higher blood pressure.
Does having a pet increase your survival after a heart attack, or decrease your survival after a heart attack? One area where there’s a bit more consistency is children’s health. The presence of furry pets in the home appears to cut the odds of acute respiratory illnesses in half, and may even decrease the risk of getting the common cold.
But, which pets work better? Cats like my Charlotte, Emily, and Ralph, or dogs like my Lilly? Published recently in the official journal of the American Academy of Pediatrics: “Respiratory Tract Illnesses During the First Year of Life: Effect of Dog and Cat Contacts.” “[T]he first study that has evaluated the significance of pet contacts during childhood for the development of respiratory tract [symptoms and] infections,” including ear infections.
They found “dog and cat contacts during early infancy may be associated with less [illness] in general…and…may have a protective effect on respiratory tract symptoms and infections.” But as to which is better, “In comparisons between cat and dog contacts, dog contacts showed a more significant protective role on respiratory infectious disease…” “[C]hildren having a dog at home were significantly healthier, had less frequent [ear infections], and tended to need fewer courses of antibiotics during the study period than children without dog contacts.”
“Cat ownership seemed to also have an overall protective effect, although weaker than dog ownership, on the infectious health of infants.” Though, when it comes to protecting children from tummy aches, both cats and dogs appeared equally effective in reducing the risks of gastroenteritis.
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