The health benefits of owning a dog are well known. Young children raised in homes with pets have lower incidents of developing allergies and asthma. Pets help reduce anxiety and stress, and can lower our blood pressure. Now a group of researchers from the University of Arizona are taking doggy kisses to a new level – an upcoming study aims to find out if there are beneficial germs for humans in a dog’s slobbery licks. The researchers believe doggy kisses may contain probiotics that are as beneficial to us as a cup of yogurt.
Probiotics are helpful live bacteria and yeasts that live in the gut. They are especially important for a healthy digestive system, which is home to 500+ different types of good and bad bacteria. Probiotics help move food through the gut, balance out the good and bad bacteria to keep the body working normally, lower the amount of bad bacteria that could cause infections or other health concerns, and help replenish good bacteria after a round of antibiotics.
The focus of this new pilot study will be finding out if there’s any positive effect on the overall health of older people who live with a dog. Past studies have shown the health benefits children gain from living with a dog, and researchers want to find out if there are similar results for older people who aren’t dog owners or haven’t had a dog in the home for a period of time.