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Tag: annual

Two new studies show dogs can protect children from allergies, eczema

SONY DSC Even before your human baby is born, having a dog in the house can protect him or her against developing allergic eczema.

According to a study presented at the American College of Allergy, Asthma and Immunology (ACAAI) Annual Scientific Meeting, babies born in a home with a dog during pregnancy receive protection from allergic eczema, at least in their early years.

The study was one on two presented at the conference in Boston dealing with protections dogs provide to children with allergies — even allergies to dogs.

In the second study, researchers examined the effects of two different types of dog exposure on children with asthma in Baltimore, according to Medical News Today.

The first type was the protein, or allergen, that affects children who are allergic to dogs. The second type were elements, such as bacteria, that a dog might carry.

The researchers concluded that exposure to the elements that dogs carry may have a protective effect against asthma symptoms. But exposure to the allergen may result in more asthma symptoms among urban children with dog allergy.

“Among urban children with asthma who were allergic to dogs, spending time with a dog might be associated with two different effects,” says Po-Yang Tsou, MD, MPH, lead author. “There seems to be a protective effect on asthma of non-allergen dog-associated exposures, and a harmful effect of allergen exposure.”

In the first study, led by ACAAI member Dr. Gagandeep Cheema, researchers investigated how exposure to dogs before birth influenced the risk of childhood eczema.

Eczema is a condition characterized by rashes and patches of dry, itchy skin, most commonly on the hands, feet, face, elbows and knees.

While the causes of eczema remain unclear, it is believed to arise when the immune system overreacts in response to certain allergens or irritants.

“Although eczema is commonly found in infants, many people don’t know there is a progression from eczema to food allergies to nasal allergies and asthma,” Cheema said in a press release. “We wanted to know if there was a protective effect in having a dog that slowed down that progress.”

“We found a mother’s exposure to dogs before the birth of a child is significantly associated with lower risk of eczema by age 2 years, but this protective effect goes down at age 10,” says allergist Edward M. Zoratti, MD, ACAAI member and a study co-author.

(A girl and her dog in Baltimore, by John Woestendiek)

Labs still tops; beagles, bulldogs rising

For the 20th year in a row, the Labrador retriever is America’s top dog.

While America’s three most popular dog breeds remained the same — Lab, German shepherd and Yorkshire terrier — the American Kennel Club’s annual list of most oft-registered purebreds had some surprises.

The beagle overtook the golden retriever for the No. 4 spot.

And the bulldog, who has been steadily rising up in rank, took 6th place away from the boxer.

“Not since the early 20th Century has the bulldog enjoyed such sustained popularity,” said AKC Spokesperson Lisa Peterson. “‘Bob’ was the first AKC registered bulldog in 1886, and today the breed enjoys its highest ranking in 100 years at number 6.”

The AKC numbers are based on the numbers of purebreds registered with the organization.

Baltimore’s top five breeds reflected the national averages, except for the presence of the Rottweiler at No. 5.

Chihuahuas, ranked 13th nationally, were the sixth most popular breed for Baltimore.

Some other national highlights from the AKC’s count:

  • The French bulldog made the largest leap in the past decade, jumping 50 places from 71st to 21st. Other breeds with the biggest increase in rankings over the last decade include the Havanese (from 86th to 31st) and the Cavalier King Charles spaniel (from 54th to 23rd).
  • Closing the gap this year, a couple of breeds that had been on the decline over the past decade made double digit increases over the past year — Keeshonden (from 102nd to 87th) and Anatolian shepherd dogs (from 115th to 109th).
  • Three new breeds entered AKC’s registry in 2010, and the larger the breed, the higher they appeared in the rankings. The Leonberger, the largest of the new breeds, was ranked 33rd; the Cane Corso ranked 51st; and the smallest of the new breeds, the Icelandic sheepdog, came in at 82nd.

Vote now for the “People’s Hero” dog

The Humane Society of the United States has announced the 15 finalists in the Second Annual Dogs of Valor Awards, sponsored by PetPlan Pet Insurance. The awards honor dogs that have exhibited extraordinary courage.

The People’s Hero winner, chosen by online voting (it ends at 5 p.m. today), and the Valor Dog of the Year, chosen by a panel of celebrity judges, will be announced May 17.

Here are the contenders:

Aubrey (Millbury, Mass.) – Led owner from a running trail to a man who was lying unconscious on an overgrown path.

Baby C. (Albuquerque, N.M.) – Found help when owner’s SUV plummeted 20 feet off the side of a mountain and wedged upside down between two trees.

Baby W. (Charleston, W.Va.) – Awakened owner as a fire spread from the garage, eventually causing their car to explode and destroying their home.

Boo (renamed “Hero”) (Jim Thorpe, Pa.) – Barked to get attention and led police to his owner who had been knocked unconscious after falling between two isolated buildings.

Buster (Clarkridge, Ark.) – Alerted owner and led him to his wife who had collapsed and was unable to move after a severe stroke.

Butch (Poplar Bluff, Mo.) – Ran down to the basement, a place he greatly feared, and woke his owner’s son as a fire quickly spread.

Charley (Loganville, Ga.) – Begged to go outside and then led owner several houses down where a man had fallen off a ladder.

D-boy (Oklahoma City, Okla.) – Shot three times as he charged towards an armed man who had broken into his home.

Hank (Dublin, Ga.) – Roused his owner and helped him to his feet after a tractor ran over him, causing massive internal injuries.

Jake (Omaha, Neb.) – Pulled a boy to safety when he was swept away and pulled underwater by currents in the Platte River.

Julian (Reading, Pa.) – Barked until he got his owner’s attention, leading the man to find his wife in a diabetic coma.

Laney (Portage, Ind.) – Bit the foot of a boy to wake him and his two friends as fire spread throughout the house.

Piper (Garland, Texas) – Pawed at and roused her owner as she struggled to breathe during an asthma attack.

Tripod (Batesville, Ark.) – Awakened her owners as a fire spread through the home, igniting their bedding.

Tyson (Stuart, Fla.) – Barked and pawed at pool’s surface, alerting owners that their infant nephew was floating in the water.

Their complete stories can be viewed here.

Dogs help students cope with stress of finals

It has become something of a tradition on the University of Wisconsin campus — just when student stress is at its highest, final exam week, dogs show up to help them chill out.

The Pet Therapy study break on the Madison campus was held again yesterday, with staff from University Health Services bringing their dogs to the Library Mall so students can pet and play with them.

In addition to the dogs soothing frazzled nerves, counselors from the school offer advice on how to deal with finals week — including telling them that all-night cram sessions are not the way to go. A good night’s sleep will probably be more valuable.

Students at the campus in Madison can also get free one-on-one counseling, and for $40, massage therapy.

(Photo: A scene from last year’s break, The Capital Times)