We love our furry friends, even if they can be a little difficult at times. I personally think my dog has perfected the art of being too cute to be mad at, even when he does something like eat my favorite, semi-expensive ear buds. The truth is that we deal with some of the less-appealing aspects of our pets because of the love and companionship that they provide to us. Pets, especially dogs, can be functional as well when it comes to providing protection.
What is interesting is that new research is suggesting that our pets are actually protecting us, even before we are born. When pregnant women are exposed the inevitable microbes that come along with pets, their baby’s immune systems are actually stronger. In fact, if a pregnant woman is around pets, her baby is roughly 30% less likely to suffer from allergies. These findings support the theory that Amish children are less likely to have allergies because of their mother’s exposure to the environment.
In the end, it all boils down to hygiene. The more microbes you are exposed to, the healthier your immune system is. Your immune system is almost like a muscle in that sense. What is interesting is that with the advent of hand sanitizer, which you can find just about everywhere, the prevalence of diseases has dropped while allergy rates have increased. Researchers think this has to do with the fact that our immune systems aren’t as strong as they used to be, even when in the womb.
Check out the following video from MinuteEarth that goes into more detail about how our pets are helping us out, even before we have the chance to rub their heads and tell them we love them. And while you are at it, give “fido” or “fluffy” a treat.