News / Edmonton

Good dogs: Study says pooches can help reduce allergies, obesity in kids

Children who grew up with dogs had higher levels of helpful microbes a local university researcher says.

Having a dog can make your kids less prone to allergies and obesity, says a new University of Alberta study.

OPUS Vancouver/Contributed to Metro

Having a dog can make your kids less prone to allergies and obesity, says a new University of Alberta study.

Having a furry friend early in life could reduce your risk of allergies later on, according to new research from the University of Alberta.

A new study showed that kids from families who owned pets, usually dogs, had higher levels of two types of microbes that researchers said are associated with  lower risks for both allergies and obesity.

In a release, pediatric epidemiologist Anita Kozyrskyj said theory holds that kids immunity benefits from exposure to dirt and bacteria early in life—in this case, that’s the stuff likely found on pet fur and paws.

While past research has shown that kids with dogs grow up to have lower rates of asthma, she argued this work goes one step further by identifying the bacteria involved.

“The abundance of these two bacteria were increased twofold when there was a pet in the house,” Kozyrskyj said in the release.

While she said the research is still in its early stages, there could eventually be practical applications for allergy-sufferers.

“It’s not farfetched that the pharmaceutical industry will try to create a supplement of these microbiomes, much like was done with probiotics.”

The study was published in the journal Microbiome, and funded by the Canadian Institutes of Health Research and the Allergy, Genes and Environment Network.

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