How dogs can decrease allergy risks

How dogs can decrease allergy risks

Pets provide many benefits for their owners, but now new research says they may help prevent the development of allergies and even asthma.

The University of Michigan study took a look specifically at what having a dog can do to prevent the onset of these common ailments. Although this relationship between pets and their prevention of asthma and allergy is not new, researchers wanted to dig deeper to find out the correlation.

They based their theories on the idea that in our attempts to be germ-free and that when immune systems aren’t exposed to bacteria and other parasites, we aren’t building up a high resistance to them.

Researchers used mice to determine the source by putting them in an environment with dust from a dog owner’s home. They then placed two groups of mice (one exposed to the pet dust and one without) in environments with two asthma-related allergens.

Results, published in the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences, showed that the dog household dust contributed to less inflammation and mucus in the airways of the mice. They found that the microbes in the doggy dust are actually the reason behind this, changing the environment in the mouse’s gut. These specific microbes are impacting the immune system to help contest allergy risk factors.

Researchers were able to pinpoint a particular bacteria found in the dog home dust, named Lactobacillus johnsonii. Once discovered, they used this live bacteria to see if its effects would be same on the mice that were not previously exposed to the doggy dust.

To their surprise, results were similar. These mice developed the same allergy-fighting protection in their bodies as the first group exposed to the dog dust.

Researchers are encouraged by their discovery, as they hope this new information can lead to more research and prevention of asthma in kids. Their hopes is that in the future by manipulating this gut bacteria, they might be able to help prevent and protect kids from allergies and asthma.

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  1. I hope this is the case for my kids who are growing up with a dog since I have both allergies and asthma. Love our pup!

  2. I find this hard to believe….in fact it was when my son was exposed as a baby/ toddler to a dog (or animal) that my son would have asthma attacks that would require a trip to the hospital ER. It didnt matter how many times we exposed him to animals, each time we did his asthma attacks got worse. So this therapy of exposing children early on may work for some children but not all.

About the Author

Sarah Scroggins
Sarah Scroggins

Sarah Scroggins, health enews contributor, is the director of social media at Advocate Aurora Health. She has a BA and MA in Communications. When not on social media, she loves reading a good book (or audiobook), watching the latest Netflix series and teaching a college night class.