- Dogs significantly reduce symptoms of asthma and eczema
- One hour a day is enough time for dogs to improve conditions
- Bacteria carried by dogs could be reducing symptoms
- One in 11 Brits have asthma
Spending just one hour a day with a dog significantly reduced the risk of developing eczema in children, scientists have revealed.
Having a dog around the home could even help to protect against asthma, even in those allergic to dogs, according to a study.
Bacteria on the dogs could be causing the protective effect, it was predicted.
One in 10 adults and two in 10 children are affected by eczema in the UK, while one in 11 Brits have asthma.
Lead author of the research and allergist Gagandeep Cheema said: “Although eczema is commonly found in infants, many people don’t know there is a progression from eczema to food allergies to nasal allergies and asthma.
“We wanted to know if there was a protective effect in having a dog that slowed down that progress.”
The scientists analysed how pregnant mothers were affected by having a dog in the house for at least one hour a day.
“We found a mother’s exposure to dogs before the birth of a child is significantly associated with lower risk of eczema by age 2 years, but this protective effect goes down at age 10.”
A second study looked at how asthmatic children were affected by dogs.
Bacteria, and other elements that dogs carry, had a protective effect against asthma symptoms, they found – even in those with allergies.
But, asthmatic children that were allergic to dogs suffered more symptoms when exposed to the protein that causes the allergic reaction, the scientists warned.
“Dog allergen exposure remains a major concern for kids who are allergic to dogs,” added researcher Po-Yang Tsou.
People that are allergic to dogs, but keep one at home, should keep it out of the bedroom, and restrict it to only a few rooms, according to the American College of Allergy, Asthma and Immunology.
Wash your hands with soap after petting your dog, and give your dog a bath at least once a week, it added.
Eczema symptoms includes very itchy skin and red, cracked or dry skin.
Asthma symptoms include shortness of breath, wheezing and feeling tight chested.