Having a dog or cat at home within the first year of life might prevent pet allergies later in life. Parents sometimes worry that having pets in the home will increase allergies within their children but a study suggests something different. If you’ve put off having a dog or cat for this reason, you might want to rethink your decision.
Research published in 2011 showed that young adults who had dogs or cats while infants were half as likely to develop antibodies to dog or cat allergens. This is called allergic sensitization. According to http://www.webmd.com, this first year of life experience is a factor that contributes to overall health in the future. The earlier children are exposed to dogs or cats, the less likely they are to be allergic as they get older. The study went on to say that exposure later in life did not provide this protection.
It’s not clear why, but researchers think that early exposure to pet allergens might strengthen the immune system, creating a natural immunity. Dirt is a good thing then, because it allows our immune system to keep busy to keep us healthy.
While this study shows the positive side of having a dog or cat, other studies have been done with mixed results. Some studies actually link pet exposure in infancy to an increased risk of allergies. This might be due to a genetic factor that runs in families. Some children might just have a predisposition to allergies that has nothing to do with dogs or cats.
It’s not recommended, however, you get a dog or cat, just to expose your children to allergies. It’s also not suggested that you get rid of your dog or cat if you are expecting a baby.
While no dog is 100% hypoallergenic there are a variety of breeds that do well with those who suffer from dog allergies. According to http://www.akc.org certain breeds of dogs have non-shedding coats that reduce the risk of dander. Dander is attached to pet hair and it causes the majority of allergies in humans.
Afghan Hound—This dog requires daily exercise and grooming. The Afghan Hound should be bathed and brushed at least twice a day.
American Hairless Terrier—This breed does well with children and is good for those living in the city because they require little exercise. An occasional walk or trip to the dog park will make them happy.
Bedlington Terrier—The Bedlington has a coat that is soft, like a lamb. Like the Hairless Terrier, the Bedlington requires a daily walk or indoor play time.
Bichon Frise—The Bichon Frise is a dog that requires regular grooming because his hair never stops growing. The Bichon Frise is just one of several dogs that will not shed.
Giant Schnauzer—The Giant Schanuzer is protective of family and it requires a lot of exercise. This breed needs to be groomed on a regular basis.
Irish Water Spaniel–The Irish Water Spaniel has a water repellent coat that needs regular care. It is an active breed that requires a lot of play time outside.
Kerry Blue Terrier—Just like the Irish Water Spaniel, the Kerry Blue needs an active family that is able to provide daily exercise. Their coat requires regular grooming.
Maltese—The Maltese has a coat that needs to be brushed daily or it becomes dirty and matted.
Miniature Schanuzer—The Miniature Schanuzer has a thick coat of fur, a double coat, that requires clipping on a regular basis. They are naturally protective and make a good watchdog.
Poodle—Poodles come in three different sizes, including Standard Miniature and Toy. Regardless of size, all three need daily exercise and regular grooming.
Portugese Water Dog—The Portugese Water Dog needs a lot of exercise, they were bred to swim all day. They are intelligent but their waterproof coat requires regular grooming.
Soft Coated Wheaton Terrier—This active dog is a high energy breed. He is best suited for an active family that spends plenty of time outdoors. They require a minimal amount of grooming but at least once a year they should be shaved down.
Even if you own one of the breeds listed above, it’s still important to keep your home clean in order to minimize allergies. Wood floors work best with dogs because there is no carpet to trap dander and allergens. Keep heavy drapes to a minimum as well because they also trap and hold onto dander. Keep your dog on a regular grooming schedule because taking care of his coat will also minimize the amount of dander you are exposed to.
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