Dog Owners Have Unique Skin Bacteria

February 11, 2014 in Aerowood Animal Hospital

A recent study at the University of Colorado-Boulder shows that dog owners have “a more diverse and different set of skin bacteria” than non-dog owners. Not only do they have different and rare microbes on their skin, but adult dog owners have more microbes in common with their dogs than with their children. Don’t fear. The researchers say that exposure to a variety of microbes can help strengthen your immune system and reduce the risk of conditions such as asthma and food allergies.

Previous studies have led scientists to conclude that the microbes we carry on and in our bodies aren’t determined by genetics alone. The researchers in the study at the University of Colorado-Boulder wanted to discover how exposure to related and unrelated people and to dogs would influence the bacteria of humans. The participants in the study included 159 people and 36 dogs. These were separated into four groups: families with children age 6 to 18, families with no children but one or more dogs, families with both children and dogs, families with no kids and no dogs. Skin and stool samples were collected from all participants, both two- and four-legged.

The microbes in question are a blend of harmless bacteria from your canine’s tongue and paws, and the study notes that most of the common bacteria shared between humans and their canines come from licking. The study also determined that dog ownership seems to have no effect on oral or gut microbes in humans.

Source: Song S, Lauber C, Costello E, et al. Cohabitating family members share microbiota with one another and with their dog. eLife, 2013;2:e00458

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