The positive effects dogs have on the mental well-being of their adult owners has been well-documented.

Now a new study suggests that the presence of our furry best friends also acts to keep babies healthier.

Researchers in Finland had the parents of 397 infants track their children’s interactions with pets during their first year. They found that babies who lived with or near a dog were less likely to suffer ear infections, coughs or runny noses, and less likely to need antibiotics than their counterparts who weren’t exposed to dog. Living with or near a cat had similar benefits, although to a lesser extent.

Some scientists believe this is because the dirt and allergens pets bring in from outside acts to boast the immune systems of babies.

Overall, babies with no dog at home were healthy 65 percent of the time, according to the parental logs. When a dog was present, babies were healthy 72 to 76 percent of the time.

[Yahoo!]