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Thursday, December 19, 2013

A dog for Christmas?

Is anyone planning on getting a puppy for their kids for Christmas? This is Neighbor Dog, we babysit her once a week. She is soooooo cute, I mean how can I resist that face? Especially when she looks up under those big bushy eyebrows!

At first, I was really nervous about having a dog in our house. Hubby and I and all 3 kids have allergies, and everyone but Hubby has asthma. So, when we started to babysit (or dog sit) Neighbor Dog, I wasn't so sure how it would turn out. It affected our allergies at first, but we seem better now. We don't sneeze and wheeze as much as we used to.

I just read an article in The Wall Street Journal, and I had to look at the title twice, because it said  "How Dogs Might Protect Kids Against Asthma: Gut Bacteria."  

Huh?! The first line in the article sums it up:

"Scientists studying why pets appear to protect kids against asthma and allergies say the answer might lie in the world of bacteria that live in the gut." 
 Like all experiments, they were done on mice. But the study showed that mice that were exposed to dust from households that have dogs, had a change in the gut microbes. When they were exposed to allergens, they had "significantly reduced allergic responses." (The mice didn't over-react to the dust!!) 

Why is that important? Because with asthma, the body over-reacts (it's called hyper-responsiveness and hyper-reactivity) to things "normal" people (aka people who DON'T have allergies and asthma) experience.That's why some people can pet a cat or dog and it's not a big deal. But if someone with allergies and asthma pets a cat or dog, the body over-reacts. Our noses run, throat itches, eyes swell up, we start sneezing, and can have an asthma attack. All from just petting a dog or cat. Stupid bodies. Why do they have to do that??!!

So, it sounds like if you have a baby, and you have a dog, that being exposed to the dog will sort of de-sensitize the baby. It will help their immune system, so their bodies won't over-react to things they are exposed to. That's basically the same thing my kids had to do, but instead of living with a dog, they all had to have 5 year's worth of allergies shots to de-sensitize their bodies. 

I'm not saying having a dog will replace allergy shots, but if it can help their bodies from over-reacting to allergies, I would do it! I mean, dogs are A LOT cuter than the needles they use for allergy shots. 

Read the article for yourself, and let me know what you think. My teenagers are WAY to old to try getting a dog and see if it helps their allergic response. So, we'll keep dog-sitting Neighbor Dog. But, if and when my college aged sons get married, maybe they should consider getting a dog to protect their future families.....just a thought!  


  1. Here in Poland every year there is social education in media, that giving animals as gift in Christmas of birthday isn't ethical. A lot of people threw away them after some time and as result Polish animal shelters are full of dogs and cats.
    That's interesting that animals protect as before allergies - I had two tests and in none of them I had allergy to dog, cat of hamster - because in our family there were always dogs.
    Greetings from Cracow :)

  2. Unfortunately, it didn't work for us. We have had one to two dogs in our house continuously since before our children were born and both children have been diagnosed with asthma since they were babies (originally "reactive airway disease")....currently ages 11 years and 14 years and still have the asthma and allergies (dogs, cats, pollens, etc. - environmental). Daughter's asthma is in the persistent moderate-severe range and son's is in a milder range.

    1. It didn't work for me or Hubby either, we grew up with pets but we both still have problems with allergies and I still have asthma flare ups! :(

    2. Here's the link to the hygiene hypothesis and farm effect. It claims the same thing, but once again-it was effective for the kids studied, but I know our family wouldn't be so lucky! :(

  3. Didn't work that way in our case either, unfortunately. We've had our poodle since before DD was born, and DD has viral induced asthma.

    1. I wish there was a magic cure for asthma. I would definitely buy it! Our family is always the "odd man out" too, what works for other people doesn't seem to work for us.

      Even though Hubby and I grew up with pets, we have year-round allergies and I still battle with asthma. That's why we don't have any pets, because we were trying to avoid our kids having the same fate.

      There is the "farm hygiene" that kids that grown up around animals and dirt seem to have less allergies. Once again, it probably wouldn't work for our kids!

  4. actually not all asthma experiments are done on mice. A fair amount are done on chlamydamonas or blue-green algae since their flagella very closely represent the lung's silla. I am currently studying the effect of alchol on clamydamonas growth rate and it makes them grow without flagella. I'll need to repeat my experiment hundreds of times before I can publish it. I'm on 108 right now. As for the dogs, I grew up with dogs ever since I was born. I have been tested and I'm not allergic to dogs, but I am to cats. I still don't let my dogs on the furniture or in my room though, my guardian breaks those rules sometimes to my annoyance. I forgot to mention that my aunt and uncle have now become my guardians and I have a mom and dad again :). I still don't speak to my birth parents and I probably wont for years if ever. Mental illness is rampant in my family, my mom has schizophrenia and my dad is bipolar. Both refuse treatment and it's a disaster. But God has a plan for me and I have already used my experiences to reach out to people in a similar situation. I'm a young adult and have potential. Thanks for putting up with me and my meltdowns. You may not realize it, but this blog has actually helped me in my journey to not only get my asthma better but my depression. I have taken up writing as an outlet. It's hard being sixk all the time whether you have asthma, addison's etc. None of my friends have as many issues as I do and I feel as if I hinder them but Its nice to see I'm not alone

    1. Hey Nerdy Gal,

      Sounds like you are quite the scientist! Way to go!

      Writing is very therapeutic, that's why I blog. I feel like other people with allergies and asthma can understand some of what my life is like.

      Of course, we're all different, even with allergies and asthma. Symptoms, medications and treatment all vary. But there's a lot people have in common too.

      Good luck and keep up the writing!! :)