Deakin Communicating Science 2016

EES 200/101

Man’s Dirty Best Friend: How they make us healthy


It’s pretty easy to see that most of the time, dogs have a tendency to make a negative impact on the cleanliness of a house. They also seem to have complete disregard for other’s inclination to stay away from germs and other nasty items, they seem quite happy to lick their genitalia, and then some form of animal poo and want to use that same tongue to spread the love to their human friends. For a society that is bedog51-e1433091700596coming more and more germ free and sterile, the thought of this frightens many concerned about their health.

If you introduce a dog into your house, you’re not only introducing a dog, you’re introducing a whole collection of dog related microbes. To some, that sentence alone is enough to deter them from having a dog, however is there anything to be afraid of?


According to a number of studies, there’s not. Susan Lynch, PhD, associate professor with the Division of Gastroenterology University of California, San Francisco, found that some of the bacteria shuttled via dogs into a home are naturally found in the human gut. Lynch, along with a number of other scientists had already determined that these gut microbes have a positive affect on immune response , so they explored to see if the same gut microbes were responsible for allergy protection.

They conducted a study where dust was gathered from a dog-free house and from a house which had an indoor/outdoor dog. The dust was then mixed with water and fed to young mice, following that they gave the mice ground-up cockroaches or egg protein, both ingredients that can prompt allergic reactions in both humans and rodents. The researcher’s reported in the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences, that the mice who received the dust from the household that had a dog showed little to no allergic reaction, comparable to the other mice which developed the “mouse equivalent” of a runny nose and revved up histamines and immune activity within their airways. In the conclusion of her report, Lynch states thatdogs-licking-babies-face-cute-pics-images-photos-pictures-bajiroo-4 the findings fit in well with the the ‘Hygiene Hypothesis ‘, that as a western society our lack of exposure to valuable microbes links to the increase of the development of allergies and asthma.


Another long-term study was conducted by Dr Tolly Epstein, where he gathered data from a sample size of 636 children who all a part of the Cincinnati Childhood Allergy & Air Pollution Study. The children who were chosen for this study were categorised as being at high risk for developing allergies, mostly because both their parents had allergies. The results found that from the children that tested positive for dog allergies, if they owned a dog before the age of one year, they were less likely to develop eczema symptoms from dogs.

Both of these extensive studies show that the germs and microbes dogs bring into the house aid in improving both your immunity and reduce both allergies and the severity of allergies. It seems to be that as a culture we are becoming more and more obsessed with being germ free and antiseptic, many failing to realise that bacteria is a crucial part of our immune system and as humans, we have more bacterial cells than we do human ones, we are practically walking petri dishes. sharing-ice-cream-cone

So maybe the best way to stay a happy, healthy you, is to let a dirty, filthy fur baby join the family.






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This entry was posted on April 23, 2016 by in Burwood - Friday 11am, Uncategorized and tagged , , , .

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