Spring Allergies 2015: Dog Saliva Can Help Allergic Reaction

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Mar 21, 2015 08:47 AM EDT

People living with dogs could be resistant to asthma and various other allergies, says a new research. Researchers suggest that when dogs lick man they spread bacteria from their saliva which could be acting as probiotics like those in yogurt.

Researchers from the University of Arizona, University of California, San Diego, and other universities, are working on a study on whether people with dogs could have improved human microbiome, according to U-T San Diego.

"We essentially want to find out, is a dog acting like yogurt in having a probiotic effect?" said Kim Kelly, a principal research specialist at the University of Arizona in the Department of Psychiatry and program coordinator for the Human-Animal Interaction Research Initiative. Kelly, one of the lead researchers, proposed to investigate the health benefits of the dog-human association.

"The idea of combining animal, human and environmental health, and seeing the whole picture through the lens of the microbes that we share, is an increasing direction for research," Rob Knight, an expert on the human microbiome and the research lead, explained.

Knight also added that there are evidence that suggest owning dogs benefit their owners in many ways. These pets may even reduce the risk of asthma and allergies in owners, said the U-T San Diego news.

Charles Raison, principal investigator of the study, said many evidence support the beneficial effects of human and dog association. He added that dogs act like probiotics helping the owners to grow healthy bacterial colonies in their body. He explained that man is not an individual but communities with bacteria, and these bacteria have impact on brain and immune system, notes ABC News.

Raison suggested that if dogs and human owners share similar microbiota then dogs must possibly be having probiotic-enhancing microbiota for the human population that owns them. He added that this study is the first investigation on the benefits of dog grooming in the human immune system, noting that his further research would be focused on the effects of dogs in children and their health.

People aged 50 and over who have not lived with dogs or taken antibiotics for the past 6 months are requested to participate in the study by the team. They would be expected to spend 3 months with a dog provided by Humane Society of Southern Arizona. The participants can choose their dog themselves and they are free to adopt the dog post study if interested, say the researchers, reported the U-T San Diego news.

Non-invasive assessment of gut flora of the participants and of the dogs will be made initially, and reassessments for three consecutive months will be made to determine the benefits of human and the dog, noted the researchers. 

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