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Exposure to Pets Early On Could Prevent Allergies Later

Sleeping puppy on plaid
Photograph by Getty Images/iStockphoto

Christmas has come and gone and presents have been opened and played with. Though some kids might have been hoping for a little bark coming from a box or a meow from behind the tree, we all know that with pets come a lot of responsibility, and a lot of dander and hair—no good if your kids have allergies.

Multiple studies have shown that exposure to pets early in life could reduce the risk of allergies and asthma later, but a recent study proved that having a dog early on actually changed the chemistry of microbes found in your gut.

Researchers at the University of California-San Francisco (UCSF) and the University of Michigan published the results of their study in the journal, Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences.

They exposed mice to dust from different houses—one with dogs and one without. They then analyzed the bacteria in their guts, which is said to be attributed to the overall health of the immune system, and found that the bacteria in the mice who had the dog dust had changed. After, researchers then exposed them to common irritants and allergens and found that the dog-exposed mice experienced a lesser reaction.

So what does this mean? Researchers say that these findings could explain why kids that are "raised in homes with dogs from birth are less likely to have allergies as children and adults." These findings prove that the chemistry of our bodies actually changes because of exposure to certain things, in this case specifically, dogs.

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