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House Dogs Build Immunity in Children

Jan 23rd 2024

House Dogs Build Immunity in Children

. . . new research explains how man’s best friend protects kids from allergies and asthma

Dogs have the unique ability to enhance our well-being by providing companionship and security.

While the emotional benefits of owning a pet—particularly dogs—is well-established, previous research shows early exposure to dogs reduces a child’s risk of developing asthma and allergies later on. Now, a new study reveals just why that may be.

A team of scientists—led by Susan Lynch, PhD, associate professor at the University of California San Francisco—has demonstrated that living with a dog can improve the diversity of bacteria in house dust—and thus a stronger immune response to these allergens.

In the study, researchers collected dust from homes that had a dog, and fed it to pre-adult mice. Then, they infected the mice with a common childhood infection called respiratory syncytial virus (RSV).

Compared to mice not exposed to any dust, as well as those exposed to dust from homes without dogs, the mice who ate the “dog dust” were significantly better protected against RSV symptoms—like inflamed, mucus-coated airways—suggesting exposure helped them fight off the virus.

Significant? Yes…considering the risk for asthma increases in kids who develop severe RSV. This protective effect corresponding with the presence of dog dust is likely time-sensitive, with the greatest impact experienced by newly born organisms, Lynch said.

The familiar role of gut bacteria in allergy prevention

According to Lynch and the study’s co-leader Nicholas Lukacs, PhD, professor at the University of Michigan, previous work by their team showed that cohabitating with dogs provides a significantly more diverse house dust microbiome—or community of bacteria—most of which are also found living in the human gut.

Since earlier research had shown that gut microbes can affect the immune system, Lynch reasoned that pets could change their owners’ tendency for developing allergies by affecting the microbes in their house dust and, therefore, their guts.

When fed this “treated house dust”, the test mice developed more diverse gut bacteria than either of the control groups. When they came into contact with these allergens, they created fewer immune cells, displayed less inflammation in their airways, and produced less immunoglobulin E (IgE)—an antibody associated with allergic diseases like asthma and atopic dermatitis.

“The current study demonstrates that changes in the gut microbiome can have wide-reaching effects on immune function beyond the gut, at sites elsewhere in the body,” Lynch said.

At Beyond Health, we’ve indicated many times the critical role of gut bacteria in treating allergies or how preventing and eliminating allergies start and end in the gut.

What if I’m allergic to pets?

While this new study may prove dogs protect against asthma in most Americans, we understand that some people suffer from pet allergies.

In fact, according to the Journal of Allergy and Clinical Immunology, up to 10% of the general population and 40% of people with allergies have a reaction to cats and dogs. With over 50% of Americans owning a dog or cat, this is a significant concern for many.

Bottom line is—like all allergies—pet allergies are serious and unnecessary diseases. Living life free of allergies is possible, and it starts with building immune competence. We recommend supplementing with a minimum of three to six grams of our Beyond Health vitamin C daily.





Information contained in NewsClips articles should not be construed as personal medical advice or instruction. These statements have not been evaluated by the Food and Drug Administration. Products are not intended to diagnose, treat, cure or prevent any disease.