Paw Power: Dogs Can Protect Against Childhood Eczema and Asthma

Mother-child Exposure to Dog Linked To Lower Risk of Eczema

To all dog lovers and for those who are reluctant to raise dogs as pets at home for fear of allergy breakouts, worry no more as new breakthrough studies revealed dogs can protect against childhood eczema and asthma.

The two studies offered relevant findings that gave people more reason to love dogs. The first study showed a strong link between exposure of unborn babies to mothers who have pet dogs around them to lower risk of childhood eczema. This discovery is confirmed by Edward M. Zoratti, MD, ACAAI member and a study co-author.

Allergist Zoratti said, “We found a mother’s exposure to dogs before the birth of a child is significantly associated with lower risk of eczema by age 2 years, but this protective effect goes down at age 10.”

Eczema is the name for a group of conditions that cause the skin to become red, itchy and inflamed. It often appears in the first six months to 5 years of a child’s life, especially for atopic dermatitis type of eczema.

Paw Power: Dogs Can Protect Against Childhood Eczema and Asthma 1
A cute puppy.

Second Study: Dogs Offers Protective Effect Against Asthma

The second study, headed by Po-Yang Tsou, MD, MPH, lead author, has shown different outcomes of two different types of dog exposure on children with asthma in Baltimore. The key finding revealed that dogs may provide a protective effect against asthma, even in children allergic to dogs.

In the study, children with asthma were exposed to the protein, or allergen, that affects children who are allergic to dogs. The children were exposed to bacteria that a dog might carry. The researchers concluded that exposure to the elements that dogs carry may have a protective effect against asthma symptoms. In contrast, exposure to the allergen may result in more asthma symptoms among urban children with dog allergy.

Po-Yang Tsou, MD, MPH, lead author, said, “There seems to be a protective effect on asthma of non-allergen dog-associated exposures, and a harmful effect of allergen exposure.”

The researchers believe that a child’s contact with factors other than dog allergen, such as bacteria or other unknown factors, may provide the protective effect.

Both studies were presented at the American College of Allergy, Asthma and Immunology (ACAAI) Annual Scientific Meeting.

Important Reminders!

Amid the interesting discoveries on the potential of the dog to protect against childhood eczema and asthma, ACAAI has more tips for those with dog allergy who keep a dog in the home:

  • Keep your dog out of your bedroom and restrict it to only a few rooms. But know that keeping the dog in only one room will not limit the allergens to that room.
  • After you pet or hug your dog, wash your hands with soap and water.
  • High-efficiency particulate air (HEPA) cleaners that run continuously in a bedroom or living room can cut allergen levels over time. Regular use of a high-efficiency vacuum cleaner or a central vacuum can also reduce allergen levels.
  • Giving your dog a bath at least once a week can curb airborne dog allergen.
Mina Fabulous
Mina Fabulous follows the news, especially what is going on in the US State Department. Mina turns State Department waffle into plain English. Mina Fabulous is the pen name of Carmen Avalino, the NewsBlaze production editor. When she isn't preparing stories for NewsBlaze writers, she writes stories, but to separate her editing and writing identities, she uses the name given by her family and friends.