Pet Owners Have Better Immune Systems, Here’s Why

Pet owners have better immune systems because animals expose them to microbes that strengthen their body’s defenses.

With pets in their lives, they develop fewer issues like allergies and are stronger to fight sickness.

People without pets aren’t used to bacteria, so get sick more often and easier.

People who don’t have pets often think animals are dirty and will make us sick. This can make sense when you consider how clean many people have become. Everything is sanitized to the nth degree, and some people don’t allow their children to get muddy anymore.

Their houses are cleaned with antibacterial cleaning products from top to bottom. Although having a nice clean house is important, we do need exposure to good microbes to get a robust immune system.

As a result of disinfecting everything, some people’s immune systems have become compromised because for many, they come in to contact with few germs.

There is a theory that our immune systems become hyper-sensitive when they don’t come into contact with germs because they are not used to it. In other words, our body’s defense mechanism overreacts, and this can cause allergies, asthma, and skin problems.

Dogs assist us by exposing us to safe germs that help pet owners get used to healthy bacteria to boost their immune system.  So, rather than dogs making you sick, they are actually making you better able to resist sickness.

One theory why healthy dogs don’t carry harmful germs is thatthe strong dogs have evolved over time, so today’s dogs have immune systems strengthened by thousands of years of evolution.


Pets Boost Children’s Immune Systems

Some studies show that children who grow up in houses with dogs in them are less likely to develop autoimmune diseases like asthma and allergies.

Exposure to animal microbes in the first three months of life stops a child’s immune system from being overly sensitive later on in life.

Cohabitating with pets is the perfect thing for training a child’s immune system. If your child can safely interact with your pets, it’s a good thing.

Other studies show that pet ownership decreases the frequency of illness, compared to people who don’t have pets. When people are given a cat or dog, the incidence of sicknesses like colds, flu, headaches, and fever are reduced for the first month.

This strengthening of the immune system continues, especially for dog owners.


Petting a Dog is Good for Your Immune System

There is good reason to stroke your pooch even more than the fact it’s a wonderful bonding time for the two of you.

Petting your dog improves your levels of an antibody that protects your gastrointestinal system, respiratory system, and urinary tract from infection.

How amazing is that? You get a healthy immune system boost from petting your favorite animal.


Letting a Dog Inside Helps Your Immune System

Dogs are dirty, and that’s what makes them good for you to a degree.Dogs bring in a large amount of bacteria that we wouldn’t normally be exposed to, but it is good bacteria.

This means the bacterial diversity is greater in a house with a dog, than without a dog.

That diversity is key to strengthening your immune system. Your dog introduces a variety of canine-related microbes, many of which are beneficial to your health and ability to stave off disease and sickness.

There are dog microbe hotspots in your house. Usually they are things like pillowcases, sofas, and anywhere your dog sleeps.

This extra level of microbes is beneficial and one of the reasons why children who are exposed to these microbes early on, tend to develop allergies far less than children kept in pet-free, disinfected houses.

Cats are just as good as dogs when it comes to assisting our immune systems. Teens that were brought up in a house with a cat in their younger years were less likely to develop allergies.


Some Pets Should be Avoided

There are some pets that should be avoided in certain circumstances for some people. Not all people benefit from animal microbes.

  • Children under 5:You should avoid turtles, lizards and snakes. You should also avoid frogs, toads, and poultry. This is because some of the microbes from these animals may be unhealthy for young children.
  • Pregnant Women and Cats: Expecting mothers should avoid getting a new cat as they can carry a toxin called toxoplasmosis.  If a woman gets pregnant, she doesn’t need t give up their current cat. Avoid changing out cat litter boxes though.
  • Pregnant Women and Rats: Pregnant women should avoid contact with rats.They carry a particularly bad virus that is dangerous for expecting women.

You should never disregard hygiene just because pets can assist immunity though. You should always clean and wash your hands:

  • After playing with your pet
  • Handling pet food
  • Cleaning up pet litter
  • Before eating or drinking
  • Before preparing food
  • When you leave a pet coop or house
  • After you’ve removed soiled shoes or clothes


Most Pets Are Good For Your Immune System

Although cats and dogs are the two animals that seem to benefit us the most, they may not be the pets that suit you.  It could be muddy paws,dander, or a lot of other things that put you off.

If that’s the case, there are other pets that are clean, offer benefits to your immune system,and they are easier to look after. These animals make great pets for children who haven’t had one before and need to get used to handling animals before moving to larger ones like cats and dogs.

  • Budgies: You can keep a budgie in a cage and let them out for exercise. They are easily handled and calm once they’ve got used to you.

Like most birds, they poop a lot. The good thing is it doesn’t smell, and it dries out quickly.

  • Hamsters: Don’t you love animals that do their business in a small area? Hamsters use a corner of their cage, making cleaning up after them easy. They are also super-cute.
  • Guinea Pigs: These funny little creatures have been a kid-friendly option for years. Guinea pigs are easy to have because they spend their time in a cage.

If you live in warmer areas, you can have the cage right on the back lawn. Spot clean their enclosure once a day, and thoroughly clean it once a week.

  • Rabbits: Rabbits are another great animal to start with because kids can handle them, pet them, and they are easy to clean.

All of those animals are easily cared for, can be safely handled, and having a pet in the early years of life will help the childrenhave a robust immune system are older.


A Variety of Pets is Best For Your Immune System

In today’s busy world, often having just one pet is all many people can manage. They decide on the animal, and all their resources go into providing that pet a loving, stable home.

Other people can manage a whole menagerie, especially if you live in rural area or on a large property. Of course, cost is also a factor, along with time and ability to keep certain pets.

Some studies have shown that having various animals improve the strengthening of your immune system. This is because certain animals may help at various ages of your life, and not at other times.

After petting a dog, you may show signs of increased antibodies in your system. The immune systems of children showed different responses to petting a cat, than petting a dog.

Stress is a factor in compromised immune systems in humans. As animal lovers, we are often able to control stress through the companionship and connection to our pets. Stress levels are lower in pet owners than non-pet owners.

So, not only do the good bacteria our pets expose us to help our immune systems, the fact they are with us does as well.

As I’ve explained in this article, pets are an essential part of our physical health for so many reasons. The ‘good’ microbes and bacteria they expose us to strengthen our immune systems and help us fight off diseases more common in people who don’t have pets.

Children in particular, benefit from interactions with pets at an early age. This sets them up for a healthier life later on.

If you hear someone say that animals are dirty and full of germs, you will know that isn’t quite right. Your cat, dog, or budgie could be helping you to live longer.


Writer: Craig Taylor

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