5 Ways Pets Influence Your Health

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Whether we know it or not, our pets influence our health in both positive and negative ways. These five may cause you to appreciate Fido a bit more, or may cause you to implement some house rules. Either way, our pets are here to stay, so find out how they impact your health!

Dogs lower risk of childhood asthma

A recent study at the University of California, San Francisco found that dust in households with dogs may protect kids from developing asthma. Specifically, researchers say the dust protects against infection associated with a respiratory virus linked to causing asthma in kids. Though the study was done in mice, researchers say the study makes a step to understand the effects of microbes on disease.

Pets provide social and emotional support

A 2011 study of pet ownership found that people with a pet were more physically fit, had better self-esteem, were more conscientious, more socially communicative, worried less and were less fearful in general. The researchers say that there are positive consequences for everyday people who own pets, not just people facing significant health challenges.

Pets can cause allergies

Using certain controller inhalers along with a rescue inhaler, which can be prescribed by a physician, can keep symptoms at bay, but avoiding triggers can also help ease symptoms. Vacuuming regularly, keeping pets off furniture and out of the bedroom can help.

Babies with pets have fewer respiratory tract infections

We already know dogs can prevent kids from developing asthma, but having pets around the first 12 months of a baby's life can prevent them from getting respiratory infections, according to a recent study. In addition, they had fewer symptoms of respiratory infections and required a shorter course of antibiotics when ill.

Pets bring bacteria to bed

Another downside to having pets in close quarters is the risk of bacterial infection, parasites and germs. Specifically, sharing a bed with your dog or cat could bring unwanted germs into your sheets, creating an unhygienic environment. Similarly, kissing or allowing your pet to lick your mouth can cause bacterial infection. Bottom line: love your pet, but let them sleep in [their own bed](http://www.boston.com/community/pets/articles/2011/01/18/sleep_with_your_pet_you_could_be_sharing _germs/).