Every Thursday, Leslie and I have Sydney Long from the Vanderburgh Humane Society in studio to discuss pet adoption, and we usually feature a dog looking for a great, loving home. The relationship between children and dogs needs little explanation and Long talks about how well the dogs do when adopted by families with children. A new study says that babies in dog-owning homes might actually be healthier than babies in non-dog-owning homes.A new study from Finland suggests that dogs may be key in protecting infants against breathing problems and infections. The study also showed that babies who live with a dog spent fewer weeks with ear infections, coughs and runny noses and were less dependent on antibiotics than babies in homes with no pets. Cats also helped, but to a lesser degree.

Researchers are not entirely sure why this is true, but they believe that the dirt and allergens that animals bring into the house are actually good for babies' immune systems.

The study focused on 397 children born in Finnish hospitals between September 2002 and may 2005 and their first year of life. According to information provided by parents, the results were staggering. It should also be noted that contact with dogs, more than cats was tied to fewer weeks of babies being sick.

The percentage of healthy babies in homes without contact with a dog  was 65-percent as compared to 72-76-percent of healthy babies in homes with a dog. Babies with dogs were also 44-percent less likely to get inner ear infections and 29-percent less likely to need antibiotics.

So, if you have been thinking about getting a dog and have babies in the house, you could be making a very wise choice for the health of your baby. Dogs are not just 'man's best friend' anymore.