Western cultures report increasing rates of asthma and allergic disease, with pets sometimes implicated as a causal factor. An interesting research development in recent years however, has demonstrated the opposite may in fact be the case; the presence of cats and dogs in the home from an early age may actually ‘acclimatise’ the developing immune system so that it is less sensitive to allergens in later life. It appears that the presence of pets in the home has some regulatory or stabilising influence on the immune functioning of children.





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  1. Gern, JE, Reardon, CL, Hoffjan, S, Nicolae, D, Li, Z, Roberg, KA, Neaville, WA, Carlson-Dakes, K, Adler, K, Hamilton, R, Anderson, E, Gilbertson- White, S, Tisler, C, Dasilva, D, Anklam, K, Mikus, LD, Rosenthal, LA, Ober, C, Gangnon, R, & Lemanske, RF. Jr.,2004, ‘Effects of dog ownership and genotype on immune development and atopy in infancy’ Journal of Allergy & Clinical Immunology, vol. 113, no.2, pp. 307-14.
  1. McNicholas, J, ‘Benefi cial effects of pet ownership on child immune functioning’, 2004, International Association of Human-Animal Interaction Organisations Conference, Glasgow.


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