I remember coming home from the hospital with Carter and laying him on the floor to introduce him to Bella. It wasn't until right then that my husband said, "how do we know if he's allergic to her?" I immediately panicked! How could we not have thought about this before bringing him home and having them interact for the very first time?
Luckily I was a nurse for a pediatrician at the time so I text her and she gave me reassurance. She said that it was actually a good thing to introduce Carter to Bella right away and that he’s a lot tougher than I give him credit for at just 2 days old. She told me that early introduction is actually good for his immune system.
My husband has asthma and bad allergies. He is actually allergic to Bella and reacts to most dogs which is why we were so quick to panic. When he was a young child he actually spent some time in the hospital in a “bubble” due to a flare up from an encounter with a cat.
Below is an article from PetLady that explains why having a dog in the house can actually be a good thing for a baby. Even at 7 months old when Bella passes by Carter he gets a huge smile on his face and giggles with their interactions. He attempts to pet her, chases her around the house in his walker, and he loves to be by her at all times.
Dirty Dogs Might Be Just What The Doctor Ordered
Who would have thought that the same dog that rolls in the mud, sniffs his or her fellow dog’s behinds, attracts fleas from time to time, and then gives you a big sloppy kiss — actually could be good for your health? But according to epidemiological studies, there is evidence that children who grow up in households with dogs have a lower risk for developing autoimmune illnesses, such as asthma and allergies, than those who don't.
According to research on this issue, there are hygienists who promote the ‘hygiene hypothesis,’ which believes that indoor living can do us more harm than good. This theory states that spending over 90 percent of our time in our bacteria-poor environment indoors — as as we do (especially early in life, when our immune systems are being formed) — can cause our bodies to overreact to harmless substances later on, making us more prone to air-borne illnesses.
“Allergies and asthma are both examples of the way that the immune system is misfiring,” said Jordan Peccia, a professor of environmental engineering at Yale University. “An allergy is our immune system attacking something that it shouldn’t attack, because it hasn’t been calibrated properly.”
Dogs counters Hygiene Hypothesis
Peccia states that exposure to animal micro-organisms during the first three months of life helps to stimulate a child’s immune system so that it doesn’t become overly sensitive as they grow.
A study published last year in The New England Journal of Medicine found that Amish children in Indiana who grew up in proximity to barnyard animals had far lower rates of asthma than Hutterite children, who were raised apart from animals, on large mechanized farms in North Dakota.
When we are deprived of contact with these ancestral bacterial allies, our immune systems sometimes lose the ability to distinguish between friend and foe. The solution: “If we can’t bring our kids to the farm, maybe we can bring the farm to kids,” said Dr. Gilbert, the director of the Microbiome Center at the University of Chicago who believes that cohabitation with all kinds of animals is the solution. He believes it's the next best thing to living next door to a farm for training a growing immune system.
Research has shown that dog ownership raised the levels of 56 different classes of bacterial species in the indoor environment which in most instances are good for us. While a few microbes are less than advantageous, the potential upsides of dog ownership appears to outweigh the risks, according to these studies.
Netzin Steklis is a biologist at the University of Arizona who is working on a study addressing the elderly. Her research is discovering how living with dogs changes seniors’ skin and gut microbiomes, and as a result — how dogs can lift our mood.
“It is not just an oxytocin story anymore,” she said, referring to the brain chemical often called the ‘hormone of love.’ She suspects that the physiological effect of this type of bacteria in our guts may contribute to the well-known anti-depressive benefit of dog ownership.