Could Your Dog Protect Your Child’s Gut Health?
You would have a very hard time finding anyone who believes their pets aren’t important four-legged members of their families, especially dogs.
Even when you don’t feel like taking care of yourself, owning a dog pushes you to get out of the house in the sunshine even for a few minutes every day. Mr. Fido needs that loving attention and so do you.
In addition to the unconditional love dogs provide, canines may also offer some additional gut health protection from Crohn’s disease for your young children, according to researchers at the University of Toronto.
The Hygiene Hypothesis Strikes Again
Scientists collected health information from nearly 4,300 patients from a Canadian database (gathering genetic, environmental and microbial information) for more than five years to search for environmental factors that could protect young kids from Crohn’s disease.
Among the factors examined in addition to the presence of a dog: Living on a farm, family size, growing up with other pets and drinking well water and unpasteurized milk.
Overall, a child living with a dog between ages 5-15 had a 37 percent reduced risk of being diagnosed with Crohn’s disease. The only other factor that offered more protection: Living in larger families of more than three members during a child’s first life of life lowered the risk of Crohn’s by 64 percent.
The common link between dogs and larger families and a greater protection from Crohn’s disease: Being exposed to a wider array of microbes helps young kids strengthen their developing immune systems versus living in more sterile environments, as described by the hygiene hypothesis.
A child’s exposure to dogs, especially from ages 5-15, was linked with a better balance of gut bacteria, healthy gut permeability and a stronger immune response.
No Gut Benefits From Living With Cats
Unfortunately, living with cats offered no extra protection, says Dr. Williams Turpin, the study’s senior author. “It could potentially be because dog owners get outside more often with their pets or live in areas with more green space, which has been shown previously to protect against Crohn’s.”
There’s another way to protect and enhance your child’s gut health, even if you don’t own a dog or your nuclear family is a small one.
Giving your child a probiotic containing multiple strains of beneficial bacteria like EndoMune Junior Advanced Probiotic from the Bifidobacterium and Lactobacillus families plus a prebiotic (FOS) can make a gut-healthy difference that gives the developing immune systems a much-needed boost.