It turns out, owning a dog might be better for our health than we realize. 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. Specifically, researchers hope to see if the benefits could expand to less itching, hives and sneezing caused by allergic reactions. t 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.

MORE: Why Scientists Want to Study Dog Germs