Patt Morrison for July 11, 2012

Does having a dog or cat make kids healthier?

Dogs From "101 Dalmatians The Musical" Visit Hospitalized Children

Michael Loccisano/Getty Images

Patient David DeNunzio, head dog trainer Melissa Harris and Chief of Pediatrics Dr. Robin Jacobson play with Gracey the Dalmamtion of "101 Dalmations the Musical" during Lacey's visit to hospitalized children at Beth Israel Medical Center.

A new study by researchers at Kuopio University Hospital in Finland found that kids who grow up with pets in their home get sick less often. The study took a look at 397 children from pregnancy through their 1st birthdays and found that kids with a dog in their household had 31 percent fewer respiratory tract infections, 44 percent fewer ear infections and needed 29 percent fewer prescriptions for antibiotics.

Those kinds of stats mean that parents may spend fewer dollars spent on medication and fewer hours seeing the doctor with their wee ones. Houses with cats had similar, but less pronounced results.

WEIGH IN:

Is it the dirt that Molly the lab or Mr. Peepers the tabby drags in that boosts kids’ immunity? Or is it just that kids with pets are happier and therefore healthier?

Guests:

Michael Chill, Dog behaviorist and animal trainer

Dr. Tamiko Ralson, member of the department of general pediatrics at Children’s Hospital Los Angeles and an assistant professor in the Department of Pediatrics at the Keck School of Medicine of the University of Southern California


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