Sharing one’s home with a cat or dog may decrease the risk of infectious diseases in children, including ear infections, respiratory illnesses, and gastroenteritis.
Thanks to all my furry babies—all rescues!
Image thanks to Petteri Sulonen via Wikimedia Commons
To my surprise, "studies of the effects of pets on human health and well-being have [actually] produced a mishmash of conflicting results." Some studies show pets lower your blood pressure, in fact in some cases more than 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 even decrease the risk 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," "the 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" "children having a dog at home were significantly healthier, had less frequent otitis, 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 protective in reducing the risk of gastroenteritis.
To see any graphs, charts, graphics, images, and quotes to which Dr. Greger may be referring watch the above video. This is just an approximation of the audio contributed by Jonathan Hodgson.
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That's Lilly at the beginning of the video—is she a cutie-pie or what?!
Protection from respiratory infections and tummy ailments is one thing, but what about cancer? See my video Pets & Human Lymphoma. Of course it's best if you don't eat them—see my last video Foodborne Rabies.
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