A Finnish study followed 400 children between the ages of 9 to 52 weeks, and asked the parents to fill out weekly diaries to record how much time the household pets would generally spend in the house and details on any infections the children would experience. After one year, it was found that in comparison to children without any household pets, children who lived with dogs:
- were more likely to be overall healthier
- have less frequent middle ear infections
- have less need for antibiotics
Cats were also associated with similar protective effects, although their effects weren’t as strong as with dogs.
The researchers speculated that pets could help speed up the maturation of the immune system in infants. This leads to improved immunologic responses and shorter duration of infections.
So there it is Mom and Dad! This is justification for giving me the best birthday ever − albeit a *tad bit* late.