Could Dog Kisses be Good for Your Health?
Yep – that’s right. Scientists have reason to believe the microbes lurking in your dog’s gut could have a probiotic effect on your body. After all, existing research on the topic shows that dogs and their owners share much of the same gut bacteria. So, can a dog act like yogurt in enhancing probiotics in our bellies?
A team of researchers at the University of Arizona wants to find out, so they’re working with the Humane Society of Southern Arizona to pair volunteers with canine companions for three months. Humans will be evaluated on their gut bacteria, diet, physical activity, and immune function while the dogs will have their gut bacteria and physical activity levels measured. Follow up evaluations will take place at the one, two, and three month marks to look for changes in both the human and canine volunteers.
What’s all the hype about bacteria? Our digestive systems are home to more than 500 different types, both “good” and “bad.” Probiotics fall into the former category. They’re the guys that help keep our intestines healthy and play a role in digestion. Probiotics are also believed to help our immune systems.
“These bacteria, or microbiota, are increasingly recognized as playing an essential role in our mental and physical health, especially as we age,” says Dr. Charles Raison, principal investigator in the study. “We think dogs might work as probiotics to enhance the health of the bacteria that live in our guts.”
Do you know a dog lover in southern Arizona who may want to participate in the study? Volunteers will be able to choose what type of dog they would like to partner up with, and those who develop a special bond with their canine companion will be able to adopt the dog once the research wraps up. We love a happy ending!