Study shows pets may make kids healthier

Parents are always looking for ways to keep their children healthy, but is it possible your pet is the answer?

A new study suggests an overly clean environment may not be as beneficial as a parent thinks.

No matter how much you protect your children, they're going to get sick and according to Dr. Craig Hughes it could be as often as every six weeks.

"If they are in day care, you could bump that up to every 3 to 4 weeks," said Dr. Craig Hughes.

But can one of these furry creatures decrease the likelihood of that happening? A new study found children who live in a home with a pet early on are more likely to be healthier compared with kids who don't live in a pet-owning household.

31 percent of those kids had fewer respiratory tract infections and 44 percent fewer ear infections compared to kids who don't live with a dog.

"You have to be real careful, its one study, there are a lot of things that could explain that has nothing to do with pets," said Dr. Craig Hughes.

Dr. Hughes says there could be a few ways researchers came up with these findings, for instance, a pet can brings things into the home that wouldn't normally be brought in.

"These can range from allergens even particulates that wouldn't cause an allergy but would challenge your immune system," said Dr. Craig Hughes.

Studies suggest that the dirt brought indoors by pets could increase helpful bacteria, yeast and other microscopic creatures that live in a developing child's body.

"Could they be bringing in different infective agents that don't make the kids sick but they are similar enough to other bacteria that they body gets some practice again," said Dr. Craig Hughes.

But before you go out and buy a pet, proceed with caution.

"Do I think it's going to be a huge significant factor, no but I think it would be another thing you would put on the side of maybe pets aren't such a bad idea," said Dr. Craig Hughes.

A pet provides multiple benefits.

"Unconditional love, you'll never get that any place else but a pet," said Dr. Jennifer Daniel, Veterinarian.

"All three of my boys are animal lovers they just like to have them around," said Dr. Charlie Deriso.

And nothing compares to the happiness a pet can bring to a family.

The study shows cats also seemed to have a beneficial effect on kids' health, but not as strong as dogs.

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