A new relationship with animals, nature and each other.

How to Beat Pet Allergies

It’s simple: Get a dog or cat early

More and more of us have allergies these days. We’re especially allergic to pets. But experts say there’s no good reason for this … and there’s an easy way to avoid it: Get a pet early in life.

The results of a new study show that babies who are exposed to dogs or cats in the first year of life have less dog and cat allergies when they grow up than other adults.

The timing is important. After that first year, having a pet in the house doesn’t make much difference to future potential for allergies. But getting that early exposure sensitizes your immune system in the right way. And even if a child misses that early exposure, being around animals and nature builds the immune system in many other ways.

Many parents have been led to believe that having pets around the home can actually promote allergies. But the lead author of the study, Dr. Ganesa Wegienka, disagrees.

“I would not get rid of my dog if I was having a child,” he said. “There’s no evidence that you should get rid of a dog or a cat.”

In an earlier study, published in2008, mothers with either cats or dogs in their home during pregnancy delivered children with higher levels of antibodies than did those who lived without pets.

Very simply, if you’re pregnant or have a newborn, you’ll be doing your baby a favor by adopting a pet, too.

What do you say? Did you grow up with pets? Do you have allergies? What’s been your experience? Let us know in a comment here or on Facebook.