A new study has shown that owning a dog when you have children sensitive to dogs reduces the incidence of eczema whilst owning a cat when you have children sensitive to cats may increase the incidence of eczema.
And so if you are prone to eczema Dogs are better than Cats.
A study published on the 1st October in the Journal of Pediatrics which was carried out at the University of Cincinnati and Cincinnati Children’s Hospital Medical Centre showed that children who tested positive for dog allergies but lived with a dog in the house during their first year were 4 times less likely to develop eczema by the age of four years than dog sensitive children who did not have a dog living in the house.
The study showed that the same was not the case for children with cat allergies as a cat living in the house during the first year left the child thirteen times more likely to develop eczema by the age of four years.
Dr Tolly Epstein a UC allergist and head researcher of the study stated that “Children with dog allergies who did not own dogs were 4 times more likely to develop eczema.”
The results come from a long term study following 636 children considered to be at high risk of developing allergies due to their parents having allergies. Dr Epstein said that 14% of the children in the study had eczema.
The ongoing allergy and air pollution study tested children annually for 17 different allergies including foods, airborne allergens (pollen and mold) and environmental exposures. Parents also completed annual questionnaires.
Whilst this study only looked at eczema, previously published studies have shown that children living with dogs are less likely to develop wheezing later in life. However previous studies have not distinguished between children with dog allergies and without dog allergies.
Dogs Acting As Natural Immunotherapy
Dr Epstein said it is possible that dogs may act as four legged shots to protect allergic children.
“Dog ownership seemed to have a protective effect,” she said. “It’s one hypothesis that it’s a kind of natural immunotherapy for these children.”
The researchers found that cat ownership did not offer any protection against eczema and cats in general are considered to cause more allergic symptoms than dogs.
Dr Epstein commented that doctors are seeing an increase in the number of children with allergic eczema, but they don’t know why.
“It is becoming very common,” she said adding that 10 – 30% of children experience allergic eczema, while it is estimated that 2-10% of adults have the condition.
Dr Epstein hopes that her findings will help parents when selecting their family pets.