Pets are good for your well-being, including your immunity.
For example, multiple studies have shown that pets reduce stress and depression. By reducing stress and depression, pets bolster our immune systems, keeping us healthier.
Growing up with pets also strengthens our immunity, lessening our risk for allergies and asthma. It used to be thought that having pets increased our chances of developing allergies. According to a growing number of studies, the opposite is true.
Allergies are hypersensitive disorders, recognizing normally harmless substances as threats. Certain white blood cells called mast cells and basophils are activated, resulting in an inflammatory response which can range from uncomfortable (such as red eyes, itchiness, runny nose, eczema, and hives) to dangerous (anaphylaxis).
By being around cats, dogs, or even farm animals while young, our immune systems are exposed early to potential allergens and strengthened.
In one study, infants living in a home with dogs were less likely to develop pet allergies: 19% versus 33%. The babies also had higher levels of some immune system chemicals, and they were less likely to have eczema, a common skin allergy condition.
An Irish proverb says, “A good laugh and a long sleep are the best cures in the doctor’s book.” Add in a playful pup or a cuddly kitten, and the formula is complete.