University of Wisconsin
School of Medicine and Public Health

Research indicates dogs may help prevent allergies and asthma

therapy dog
Dr. James Gern

It’s likely that dogs make bacteria in the home and the body more diverse, and thereby help strengthen the immune system. That's the overall conclusion of several recent studies on links between human immune system function, the human microbiome, and the presence or absence of a canine companion in the household.

James Gern, MD, professor, Allergy, Pulmonary and Critical Care Medicine, led a study finding that that 3-month-old infants who lived in homes with an abundance of certain pet and dust allergens had a lower risk of developing asthma. 

"Our observations imply that exposure to a broad variety of indoor allergens, bacteria, and bacterial products early in life may reduce the risk of developing asthma. Additional research may help us identify specific targets for asthma prevention strategies," said Dr. Gern. 



Photo (top): A therapy dog from Dogs On Call makes a health- and wellness-promoting visit to internal medicine residents in May, 2018.