Babies Healthier With Dog, Cat In Their Lives

Study finds pets help cut risk of colds and ear infections in infants.


We all know that there is a long list of benefits in having a cat or a dog as an adult. But a 2012 study out of Finland has proven that dogs can be a baby's best friend, too — especially when it comes to the child's heath, as CBS News reported.

"Our findings support the theory that during the first year of life, animal contacts are important, possibly leading to better resistance to infectious respiratory illnesses during childhood," the study's experts report.

The study, whose findings were published in the journal Pediatrics, tracked almost 400 children from birth until 1 year old. Of those children, 245 of them had a dog in the home as a baby; 136 of them had a cat. Researchers found that those "babies who had early contact with dogs or cats were ... 30 percent less likely to experience coughs, ear infections and symptoms such as stuffiness, runny nose, sneezing and congestion (rhinitis)," according to the CBS News report.

The one key finding that stood out: Babies born in homes with dogs were 44 percent less likely to develop ear infections and 29 percent less likely to have been given antibiotics in that first year compared with children without pets, CBS News reports.

Researcher also found that having a cat around was "also tied to protective health benefits, but the effect was much weaker," CBS News says.

Previously, Crib Notes reported on a similar study that said keeping Rover and Fluffy around while you're expecting will help cut your baby's allergy and asthma risk.