It turns out, owning a dog might be better for our health than we realize. Besides lowering blood pressure and reducing stress, researchers think dogs might boost our immune system as well.
Researchers from the University of Arizona want to study whether the bacteria found in our favorite four-legged friends promotes the growth of helpful microorganisms in humans, Huffington Post reported. Specifically, researchers hope to see if the benefits could expand to less itching, hives and sneezing caused by allergic reactions.
Doctoral student and program coordinator of the study Kim Kelly explained that there is already evidence that having a dog can lessen auto-immune disorders and allergy issues, so the idea that the bacteria in dogs (and their saliva) can help remedy allergic reactions isn’t nuts. So, those people you see allowing their dogs to lick their faces and even their mouths? Yeah, they might be healthier than you.
“Microbes in our gut can have profound effects on our health, both our mental health as well as our physical well being…so is there something in the transfer of these microbes between dogs that is actually making us healthier?” Kelly said to Arizona public radio.
According to ABC News, the study will take blood and skin samples from humans between the ages of 50 and 60, and their canines over the course of three months. Previous studies have shown that households with dogs generally have a larger diversity of bacteria. Although that fact may sound a bit gross, it’s actually good for us: Greater bacteria diversity helps to build a stronger immune system among humans.
Researchers are currently raising money to fund the study, as well as recruiting volunteers to participate. If you ask me, this sounds like a fun study — who wouldn’t want to spend more time with their pooch?