They stick their noses into all loads of unsavoury places – but having a smooch with your dog could actually be good for your health.
Researchers from University Arizona (UA) believe that the microbes that are within in a dog’s gut could provide humans with a robotic effect.
These scientists are now looking for volunteers to help prove if their assumptions are correct.
“We’ve co-evolved with dogs over the millennia, but nobody really understands what it is about this dog-human relationship that makes us feel good about being around dogs,” said Kim Kelly, an anthropology doctoral student and one of the main scientists on the study.
The scientist are trying to find out if dogs are just cute and fluffy and people like to stroke them, or is there something deeper going on. Has a relationship between dogs and humans evolved and got under the skin?
The university is conducting the study under the universities new ‘Human-Animal Interaction Research Initiative’. The initiative aims to bring many research’s from all types of disciplines together, to help analyze the benefits of human- animal relationships.
Kim Kelly will be working alongside other departments from the UA as well as the University of California, with an aim to discover if living with a dog can boost physical and mental health in older adults.
“We essentially want to find out, is a dog acting like yogurt in having a robotic effect?” Kim Kelly said.
Prior research has shown that people that own dogs are often happier and healthier – but there’s never been a full understanding of the reasons behind this. Other studies have shown that dogs and their owners quite often have a lot of the same gut bacteria.
“We think dogs might work as probiotics to enhance the health of the bacteria that live in our guts. These bacteria, or ‘microbiota,’ are increasingly recognized as playing an essential role in our mental and physical health, especially as we age,” said Dr. Charles Raison, principal investigator for the study.
“We know that not all bacteria are good. We can get very sick from the ‘bad’ bacteria, and modern medicine has done a wonderful job of protecting us from various diseases that are created by these bacteria,” said Dr. Charles Raison.
The volunteers for this study will be matched up with a dog and will live with it at home for 3 months. The researchers will start by analysing the volunteers gut bacteria, their diet, activity levels and immune systems. The gut bacteria and activity levels of the dogs will also be measured.
The measurements and test will be carried out every month to see if any positive effects have occurred in the dogs gut microflora or humans.
The researchers will also look for any changes in both the volunteers or the dogs health and emotional state.
The volunteers will all be aged 50+ and will not have been living with a dog for at least six months.
To find about more visit University of Arizona’s Dogs as Probiotics Study