Sharing The Bugs…

If you own a dog you know how much joy they can bring to your life. They share the good times and the bad times with you. Another thing you share with your dog is bugs.

You are probably already aware that we are teeming with bugs inside and on us. In fact humans have approximately 10 times more bacteria, fungi and other organisms (collectively called a microbiome) in us and on us than human cells. Most of these bugs have vital roles to play to keep us healthy. Sometimes we can become infected with unhealthy bugs, which can make us sick.

Research has shown that dog owners share a microbiome with their dogs. Researchers in the USA studied a number of families with and without a dog. Volunteers sent in swabs that they had rubbed on their foreheads, the palms of their hands, the tops of their tongues and a smudge of their feces! The volunteers also sent in swabs of their dogs’ paws, fur and tongues.

The researchers conducted genetic analyses on the samples, searching for the genetic material of microbes. Dogs have a much greater variety of bugs growing in and on their bodies; some bugs are the same as what humans carry, and others are typically found in soil and water.

Dog owners had those bugs on their bodies. Interestingly, cohabiting couples shared more microbes with each other if they had a dog, compared with couples that didn’t own dogs. Dog owners also had more species in common with other dog owners than they did with doggy-less people. One of the largest groups of bacteria that dog owners and their dogs share is betaproteobacteria, which are found on human skin and on dog tongues. Particularly if you own a dog with a very enthusiastic tongue!

Is this a good thing? The answer is probably yes, since the bugs researched in this study are not disease causing pathogens. In general, the wider the variety of strains of bugs you have in your body, the better your immune system function.

You can also increase the diversity of your microbiome by eating fermented foods like sauerkraut and kombucha, and taking a probiotic supplement like Floratone.

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