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Healthy Dog Germs

March 25, 2015

Do dog germs make us healthier?



Nan Palmero flickr CC BY 2.0

(Nan Palmero/flickr/CC BY 2.0)

Are dog germs probiotic? I’m Bob Hirshon and this is Science Update.

Children who grow up with dogs are less likely to have allergies, and dogs may also improve the health of adults. University of Arizona researcher Charles Raison thinks the reason is dog germs. He says gut bacteria we pick up from close contact with canines may have a beneficial effect on our immune system.

Charles Raison (University of Arizona):

Dogs may positively impact the microbiota of a person in ways that then produce immuno-regulatory, anti-inflammatory protective effects that should not only enhance your physical well-being but also enhance your emotional and mental well-being.


He and his colleagues have just begun a pilot study in which adults who have never had a dog will be given one. Their gut microbes will be tested before and after dog exposure. The researchers will look for changes in their immune system, inflammation markers, and other effects. I’m Bob Hirshon, for AAAS, the science society.