New study finds dogs and cats help children with ear infections and respiratory issues

TAMPA - We often see children petting their pets, playing with them at the park, and snuggling up with them at home. Maria Sinder, Owner of Barks by the Bay, a pet and grooming store always had pets for her two children. She feels lessons from our four legged friends are invaluable.

"I do think that it teaches children how to take responsibility and how to love any living thing.  I think that carries forth with their own relationships in life," said Snider.

But Snider and her employee Judy Giannarelli didn't know a about a new study from Finland. It found babies that grew up with cats and dogs actually had fewer ear infections, respiratory problems, and even needed less medicine when they got sick.

"They do bless our soul and I can see how they can help children live a healthier life and adults of all ages," said Giannarelli.

We took the findings to Dr. Marcy Solomon Baker . The immediate pass president of the Hillsborough County Pediatric Society.

"It is a journal in a decent study. Pediatrics is our number one pediatric journal. But are you really going to commit to a dog or cat for a lifetime just so your kids have a few fewer ear infections?" Dr. Solomon Baker asked.

Dr. Solomon Baker is a pet owner herself. Her daughter Sam grew up with their dog Ivy. But, if you are ready to get a dog or cat soley based on the study, she feels more research needs to be done. The study focused on 400 hundred babies from birth to their first birthday.

"What I would say it tells me is that parents don't need to worry about having a dog or cat in the house doing something detrimental to their child other than obviously safety issues not leaving them alone together. But as far as infection it may be beneficial to have the dog or cat in the household," said Dr. Solomon Baker.

Researchers believe the dirt pets may track in from outside could build a babies immune system. The study did show the children whose pets spent time outdoors fared better.

Snider and Giannarelli said they had no idea a study like this was even being done. But anything to promote pets is good in their books.

"I am glad it was done and so glad to hear that they came out with these results," said Snider.

Doctors who conducted the study agree with Dr. Solomon Baker. They said more research needs to be done. They did find, kids had a better response with dogs over cats.

But keep in mind, as kids get older allergies can develop. You just need to keep an eye on it.

On a personal note, my husband Dave relied on this study among others when we decided to get a dog. Our daughter, Sammie is five years old and he felt a pet, specifically a dog, provided many benefits.

You, the viewers helped name her! Lola and Sammie are best friends. A picture of them is attached to this article.

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