Saturday, August 18, 2012

Furry Things

Studies continue to confirm that babies growing up in a household with two furry things are healthier. Two cats, two dogs, one of each, your pick. It seems that children who are exposed to dogs, in this particular study, published by the journal Pediatrics ( American Academy of Pediatrics ), grow up with less respiratory illnesses. The health benefit is supposed to be similar to immunization with low levels of antigen that causes allergies and the bacteria that cause illnesses.

I know there a lot of grannies who would disagree. However this study of almost 400 kids over one year shows children living with a dog were healthy 81 percent of the time as opposed to 64 percent who did not live with a dog.

I think that there are many other psychological and developmental benefits to living with pets. Children learn compassion and responsibility.  They have built- in best friends. Dogs, more than cats, are involved as a family member in a very interactive way. They are there to say hello and share the couch and your cheese and crackers. However cats have been shown to have a beneficial health effect as well.

I always tell my clients to introduce their infant to the furry things in the house day one. Bring the baby in from the hospital in the infant carrier and call in the dogs. Let them sniff and lick and get to know, right away, what this new thing in the house is. It's a much better way of acclimating your pets than putting them away in a separate space, leaving them at your mom's or isolating them in some fashion. Pets will act out if they don't understand that this is a baby, not a smoked turkey. Let your pets share your lap when you nurse and sit by the rocker when you soothe your baby to sleep. Before you know it, they'll be sharing a big bed. And your kid will probably be healthier.