Does Hudson Need a Puppy, Too, to Grow Up Super-Healthy? : Exclusive Renegade Health Article

Monday Aug 13 | BY |
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A dog? Jonny 5 says, “Don’t even think about it. I got this.”

Our cat, Jonny 5, thought he was doing his job by staying close to our son, Hudson. Possibly, he’d heard about the study published in Clinical & Experimental Allergy in 2011 that found that infants younger than one year who lived with pets were less likely to develop allergies than children who acquired them later in life. In fact, boys and girls exposed to cats during infancy were 50 percent less likely to be allergic to them later, with the same being true of boys and dogs. (Oddly, this was not found to be true with girls and dogs.)

These results conflicted with those of an earlier study. In 2010, scientists at the University of Cincinnati studied children born to parents with allergies. Children who tested positive for dog allergies were less likely to develop eczema by four years if they owned a dog before age one year. Those who tested positive for cat allergies, however, and owned a cat before age one year, were 13 times more likely to develop eczema by four years.

Now a more recent study says that both dogs and cats actually help bolster a baby’s health—and we’re not just talking about allergies this time. We’re also not telling Jonny 5 that dogs actually boosted health a bit more than cats.

What the Study Found
Researchers from Finland studied 397 infants born between September 2002 and May 2005. Parents filled out weekly diaries starting from when the child was nine weeks old, recording information on the babies’ health and their contact with cats and dogs. After a year of observation and a year-end questionnaire, scientists found that 35 percent of the children spent the majority of their first year with a pet dog and 24 percent in a home with a cat.

Before their first birthday, 285 of the babies had at least one fever, 157, had an ear infection, 335 had a cough, 128 wheezed, and 84 got stuffy or runny noses. In addition, 189 had to take antibiotics at some point.

After analyzing all the data, researchers found babies in dog-owning families were 44 percent less likely to get inner ear infections and 29 percent less likely to need antibiotics. Children with dogs also had fewer respiratory tract symptoms or infections. The presence of a cat was less effective, but researchers noted that children with dogs or cats at home were significantly healthier during the study period and had fewer weeks with cough and respiratory illnesses and needed fewer antibiotics overall than children with no dog or cat contacts at all.

How Do Dogs Help?
Researchers believe that early exposure to animals somehow affects the maturation of the immune system. Dogs who spent only part of the day inside were more likely to help their babies stay healthy than dogs who were inside all the time. Researchers theorized that dogs may track dirt inside the home, affecting the living environment and exposing the baby to a wider variety of bacteria. Danelle Fisher, a pediatrician at St. John’s Health Center, told the Los Angeles Times that dogs tracking dirt and germs from outdoors may “stimulate the immune system” of babies to “do a better job of fighting off infection.”

The researchers also theorized that some of the studies with pets may be inconsistent because of differences in the studies themselves. Different types of animals were not evaluated separately, for instance, and in some studies, the children are older than one year.

In conclusion, the researchers stated:

“Evidence suggests that animal contacts, especially during early life, might be crucial in immunity developing a nonallergic route and in ensuring effective responses to respiratory viral infections earl in life. We speculate that animal contacts could help to mature the immunologic system, leading to more composed immunologic response and shorter duration of infections. We offer preliminary evidence that dog ownership may be protective against respiratory tract infections during the first year of life.”

Will a new dog grace the Gianni household? Annmarie and I are talking… out of Jonny’s earshot, of course.

Do you allow pets around your young children? Why or why not?

* * *

Photo courtesy Kevin Gianni.

Madeline Bernstein, “Exposing Infants to Pets May Reduce Allergies,” Technorati, June 13, 2011,

Richard Alleyne, “Pet Dogs Reduce Allergies in Children, but Cats Increase Them,” The Telegraph, September 29, 2010,

Andrew Seaman, “Babies in Dog-Owning Families May be Healthier: Study,” Reuters, July 10, 2012,

Eija Bergroth, et al., “Respiratory Tract Illnesses During the First Year of Life: Effect of Dog and Cat Contacts,” Pediatrics, Vol 130(2); August 1, 2012, pp 211-220,

Kevin Gianni

Kevin Gianni is a health author, activist and blogger. He started seriously researching personal and preventative natural health therapies in 2002 when he was struck with the reality that cancer ran deep in his family and if he didn’t change the way he was living — he might go down that same path. Since then, he’s written and edited 6 books on the subject of natural health, diet and fitness. During this time, he’s constantly been humbled by what experts claim they know and what actually is true. This has led him to experiment with many diets and protocols — including vegan, raw food, fasting, medical treatments and more — to find out what is myth and what really works in the real world.

Kevin has also traveled around the world searching for the best protocols, foods, medicines and clinics around and bringing them to the readers of his blog — which is one of the most widely read natural health blogs in the world with hundreds of thousands of visitors a month from over 150 countries around the world.


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  1. bankopologist says:

    Yes we have a dog and two cats. When our daughter moved into her own room from our family bed at five, the dog went with her to her bed. Cats are fun to have around but her dog is her playmate and best friend. She taught our dog to climb the ladder to her play house and slide down the slide with her. Our daughter is tiny; just a little wisp of a thing and she has a dog to match her size, who wont drag her around the yard. I would highly suggest a pappillion as a first dog. They are super smart and very agile. Great for an active family but pocket sized for your childs convenience lol.

  2. IdaFish says:

    As a nerd I would say ‘CATS FOR TEH WIN!’ aka cats are the best and you don’t need a puppy.
    I grew up with cats and I love them and I MOST DEF reckon they are/were a part of making me the caring, loving and ‘cuddly’ person I am today.
    I believe that animals help children learn empathy and many other emotions, and they teach them about life in some ways.
    Downside is tho, that when the animals pass away its a big kick in the face – but that can also be a life learning I suppose.. Even tho, I still am not over the loss of those cats that have died during my upbringing, and I’m now 27.5yrs of age 😉

    BTW! Reckon you should change where it says “Watch More Episodes Now!” on the bottom of the homepage to something like “Read more entries now!” 😀

  3. nina says:

    I’d say it depends on how well Johnny 5 will adjust. Might be fine, might now.
    My oldest son had pretty bad allergies when he was in his early teens. We “found” a puppy/dog when he was about 14 or so – couldn’t find the owners, so kept him – Benji was with us 19 years(!). Benji didn’t seem to affect my son’s allergies wither way. Also, as he was growing older his allergies didn’t seem to be as bad. Also, after my 2nd son and daughter were born, the dog didn’t affect them at all. WE never had cats, but as my 2nd son and daughter grew older and started to stay with friends who had cats, they seemed to adopt cat allergies. Go figure!
    I can only wonder how they would have been affected if we’d had both a dog and a cat.

  4. nina says:

    Sorry, just thought of something else. My 2nd son and my daughter were rarely sick, all their lives. They did grow up with the dog, but they were also breast fed. Six of one, half dozen of the other, I guess.

  5. Leam says:

    Miss hearing J5 talk about his day and get excited over blue-green algae tablets.
    Never had allergies to animals growing up…now itchy, irritated eyes and throat when around animals, especially cats, and I LOVE cats.

  6. Alex says:

    I don’t think it is easy as that. I grew up with a cat and a dog and still had Allergy issues for years.


    I love animals but mostly keep my distance or I have to pay for it!

  7. Vee says:

    Too many people who own dogs or cats are very inconsiderate of other pepele as they don’t think anything about taking the animals with them when they vist and many people, I am one of them, do not like animals in my house. If they don’t mind hair and smell in their house
    I am OK with that but I don’t want it in our house.

    Also what do you do with the animals when you go out of town? Before getting pets one need to consider this question. Do you ‘bother’ your family or friends or take full responsibility for it?

    Thankful I don’t have animals.


  8. Annette says:

    …or you can just let him play in healthy dirt regularly. Did you see the documentary called Dirt? It’s excellent.

  9. Brianna says:

    Well, I am all for pets. Stress relief, even at that age, is important. Animals provide that special kind of comfort and relief and I think sometimes we forget about how important and impactful that can be.

    What would have been nice is if there could have been some testing of stress levels or behavioral indicators of stress among the children with pets, and the children without pets

    I definitely say yes to pets. My puppy and kitties growing up were good pals, playmates, and protectors in some instances (even if it was protection from myself)!

    If I were you, I’d get a dog. Not only will Hudson benefit, but you and AM will too.

  10. Tahnee says:

    I would say a Minicher Poodle cus they have fur not hair so they do not shed only the under coat sheds when brushing. Also no one should be alergic to them cus of the fur no hair. Also they are really smart and good with kids and not to small nor not to big then a toy or a stander poodle. He can grow up with the dog and the dog grow up with him. I like cats and dogs,but I think dogs you can do more things with, cats are independent. Animals in the whole can be good possitiv energy and they help you enjoy life and know reasponsibilite. sorry for my spelling.

    Enjoy your son he is a special gift.

  11. Mirabelle says:

    Getting a puppy for health reasons? Not sure. My 2 siblings and I always grew up with dogs, but not cats. Got my first cat at 20 yrs. Neither me or my brother have pet allergies, but my sister is allergic to both dogs and cats.I even have mild multiple chemical sensitivity, and severe mold allergies, but animals are no problem. So, I say get a puppy if you want one for the emotional reasons described by previous commentators.Dogs can be so warm, cheerful, uppity, happy, positive…all heart. While I find cats more wise, independent, and meditative in nature.I’m all for having cats and dogs together.Best to the whole Gianni family.

  12. Yvonne says:

    25 yrs ago in Sweden authorities recommended to wait with introduction of fish in diet, b/c it could cause allergies. I couldn’t remember the age, if it was 6 or 8 months, so I googled it and found out that it no longer applies. But I found another warning. Now they recommend to wait with introduction of dark green veggies like spinach and others until after 12 months of age, b/c they contain nitrates which hinder transportation of oxygen in the blood.

    The age recommendation in Sweden is different than in the US:

    The American Academy of Pediatrics recommends that parents do not prepare baby foods made of carrots, beets, green beans, squash, or spinach for babies under 3 months old because of high nitrate levels.

  13. christine says:

    Im with Alex #6. It’s not quite so simple. I believe it helps immune systems development if babies & children are allowed to have contact with pets and dirt. The world has become too sterile for some with all of the antibacterial soaps/cleaners and such that are currently on the market. Cleanliness yes but not paronoia about any bug in the home – no.

    As for the allergies – I grew up on a dairy farm and had alleriges to cows hair, cows milk, horse hair, cats, and various grasses. For the allergies to kick in I had to have physical contact. For example I can be in the same room as a cat without a problem but if that cat jumps up on my knee to smootch its a problem. I have been re-tested as an adult and the same allergies remain. However I manage to live with 2 dogs and a cat which is fine.

  14. Yvonne says:

    Just read: according to Swedish authorities children and women of child bearing age should not eat fish more than 2-3 times per YEAR b/c of poisons in Swedish lakes and the Baltic Sea surrounding Sweden. It used to say do not eat fish more often than 2-3 times per WEEK, but now it is per YEAR! Wow! It doesn’t say anything about the Atlantic and Pacific.

    I think the best would be to do aquaponic gardening, grow fish which eats plants and the fish poop gives nutrients to the veggies, and use filtered water, that way you know there is no poison in your veggies or the fish you grow. Unfortunately, I myself don’t have the space or the money to start an aquaponic gardening but to be able to control the food growing environment would definitely be the best. Air and waters are polluted nowdays. Aquaponic gardening in a biodome, with solar panels, would be the smartest. At some point we all will need to rethink the way we live. It will have to be a grass roots movement, no politicians in any country will help us to survive, they are all in it for the money, not to help anybody except themselves.

  15. Yvonne says:

    Answer to Christine, regarding your cat allergies: get an Oreck air purifyer. It cleans the air from dandruff, dust, odor, anything really.

  16. sb says:

    I recently tried the Energy process “Ask and Receive” with Sandi Radomski and Tom Altaffer (Yup!) offered specifically for allergies. I don’t know yet if it worked; am planning on going through it a few more times before testing it by visiting my friend’s dear cat (usually need antihistamines or lots!!! of green tea tincture in glasses of water (this has helped).

    Had cats as child, dogs as teen, did not become allergic to cats + dogs til after left home (other allergies). Good luck all!

  17. Sally Garber says:

    If folks would just go back to some old time ways such as cleansing their colons on a frequent basis and truly nourishing their bodies and minds along with it, I don’t believe we’d hear much about allergies like we do today. Let me be clear: “nourishing their bodies” does not mean a totally raw, vegan or vegetarian diet! Kevin found that out the hard way

  18. George says:

    I would tend to go along with the idea that pets, cats or dogs, could help with the immune system’s development in the early years of a child’s life. Certainly in my earlier years I seem to remember that there was always a dog in the household. The question arises as to how Jonny will react to a puppy in the house? I recall how the collie dog reacted to the black cat when it first arrived. It was the cat that snarled, not the dog. The two soon learned to live with the situation and became friends. It is your choice and good luck.

  19. LynnCS says:

    Although I miss my wonderful kittie of 16 years, it is a pleasure to get all the fir and dander cleaned out of the house. I miss her terribly, but don’t think I will want to deal with all that comes with it any time soon. I can’t imagine having all that in the house would be good for a baby.

  20. Monica R says:

    I agree with LynnCS. I miss my dog that passed away last November but don’t miss the fur and dander and dirt that the dog brings in. My son is now 15 months old and so far does not have allergies. He was with our dog from birth to about 6 1/2 months old. I feel that the house is cleaner and we’re less stuffed up and with the baby now getting around I feel it is safer and cleaner without the dog. For those reasons I wouldn’t get a dog and the responsibility of always having to come home when we’re out to let her out. Or finding someone to look after her when we go on vacation. I do miss the companionship and my son loved our dog too!!

  21. Sundaram says:

    Hi Kevin,
    I grew up with a Siamese cat and still had allergies…
    I think it has more to do with whether you got breast milk or not as an infant.
    I didn’t.
    Maybe it’s not as simple as that, but there’s so much nutrition in mother’s milk.
    Best to yu all…love the picture!

  22. Carol says:

    cat allergy can also be improved by detoxification, of both the person and the cat. Zeolite is tasteless and can be added to food, or blue-green algae.

  23. Diane says:

    Didn’t have animals as a baby .. not until a kid. Had dogs & cats. They’re just very good for many reasons .. seeing kittens birth, touching & loving on them a lot made them GREAT cats.

    The only allergy I have after 50 years is POISON IVY … and it kicks my butt! Nothing seems to work except taking Benedryl.

  24. Lexxie says:

    Don’t get a puppy just for health reasons.They have feelings too.Get a puppy because you want to love and respect it and you want to expand your family even more.You have a kitty already,so you know that he is with you for life.Just like Hudson.
    I was not allowed pets while growing up.Had to wait til I was 19 years old.Then I left the house and the country.When I got my very first apartment I got a cat.The rest is history.I’ve had dogs and cats both,at one time I had 2 dogs and almost 20 cats living with me and my ex husband.Don’t ask.Never had any allergies to them.Or to anything else.Now that I’m free and single again,I have 2 kitties I love to death and they probably will be the last pets I’ll have in this lifetime.

  25. Barbara says:


    Red clover stillingia compound by Herb Pharm has been a poison ivy, misquito reliever for me and I get both badly. Many other herbs reduce the swelling too arnica is one, for this not topically just the pellets. Maybe they would work for you. Ask your health practioner..

    My beliefs about babies these days are… Introduce them to veggies before fruits after breast milk, intrduce them slowly to many varieties of foods, no vaccines due to the heavy metals and chemicals plus deadly viruses esp the 9 virsus booster now required which has just got to destroy them. They are maiming and trying to kill kids today under the guise of saety. Exposure to all of thse and pets will show the parents what they are sensitive to or allergic to without the need for vacines, hand sanitizers etc. the body was created to take care of itself allergic re actions let you know there is an imbalance what to avoid for now.

    As a child we had dogs not cats and i was not allergic to them but many foods and all the poison ivys where unfortunately a cortisone shot is what saved my life i had such a case of all 3 at once which the doc never saw before. The point of telling you all of this? I out grew all of thses allergies as an older child.

    As an adult with the help of a naturopath, my daugter and i were found to be allergic to many foods. We were desensitized with homeopathic drops and 12 years later my daughter was found to have celiac disease at 18. It was possibly there all along but the food supply has become so much worse now and the toxicity of food and the enviroment is so much worse in these last 18 years, I believe this, celiac, came about because of the degradation of the food suuply. She eats healthier now, but still at 18 is stubborn with dairy and some processed food. And she grew up with 2 cats and a dog and never tested allergic for these just the foods in 2000 and the celiac this year.

    So, we are all different, unique in every way. What’s most important is to love unconditionally and let the babies/kids immune system develop as God created them to, with exposure to most everything.

  26. violet says:

    having a dog didn’t help me. i had horrible allergies and asthma, anyway. in my 20s i got a cat and forced myself to get used to her. it took about 6 months of exposure till i could live with her off medication. so when my son was born the cat was moved outside since she tried to claw and smother him. he has allergies and asthma too, but not as bad as mine was. i am now 43 and have cured almost all of my allergies with years of food eliminations, detoxing, herbs, homeopathy, etc. it’s been a long road.

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