As we settle into the spring season, most of us are experiencing seasonal allergies. 
So, how can someone reduce their lifetime risk of developing allergies?
Two words: household pets!
The more pets a child has in the home while growing up, the greater their protection against allergies will be later in life. These anti-allergy effects are most prominent in children. But there’s some evidence that adults can benefit from owning pets, too.

Pets alter the composition of gut bacteria in children

These changes are what are responsible for lowering the risk of developing allergies.
But how does the gut bacteria in children change due to pets being in the home? For example, what bacterial species are changing and in what ways?
Microbiome Journal, published a study that looked at pet exposure under different birth scenarios. They looked at exposure to antibiotics during pregnancy, for example.
They found that the impact of pet ownership varies under different birth scenarios. Yet exposure to at least one furry pet doubled the levels of two bacteria – Oscillospira and Ruminococcus – regardless of the birth scenario.
These two bacteria have been associated with a reduced risk of developing: 
  • allergies

  • asthma

  • autoimmune diseases

Both Oscillospira and Ruminococcus make a substance called endotoxin. It’s a molecule that bacteria with two cellular walls (versus one) use in their outermost membrane.

It elicits a strong response in the cells of the immune system. These are responsible for suppressing unwanted immune reactions.

Pet owners enhance their microbiome to train their immune systems to be less allergic

And they don’t need to do anything to achieve this benefit to their immune system other than own a furry pet.

Pet owners whose furry pets spend ample time outdoors seem to benefit the most from this anti-allergy effect.

If you’re someone who suffers from seasonal allergies every spring, you might consider adopting a furry companion. And if that’s not possible, call us to schedule an appointment: (425) 361-7945. We can help you get your allergies in check this spring season.

Article by Dr. Orr