There have been lots of studies in the past decade that have shown the tight connection between dog and human in terms of stress reduction. This joinery, if you will, helped spawn a burgeoning therapy pet program nationwide.
But what about other health benefits? Can dogs help improve your immune system like a daily yogurt regimen or downing a handful of probiotics?
Here’s some information about a groundbreaking study to determine just that.
Researchers from The University of Arizona, the Humane Society of Southern Arizona and the University of California San Diego are partnering on a study to find out whether the relationship between canines and humans is strong enough to improve the physical well-being of both.
The researchers began a Go Fund Me campaign to raise a total of $75,000. The first phase of the study will involve securing canine and human volunteers, collecting samples and then beginning to assess the impact of dogs and humans with respect to their immune systems.
The second phase is continued analysis on how your furry BFF can improve how well you fight off disease and that phase will cost $45,000.
As of May 2015, they have raised about $17,500 of the cost of the study’s first phase.
Who is Participating?
Here’s the beautiful part: The dogs who have been chosen to participate are shelter dogs found in the Humane Society of Southern Arizona system which gives them a chance at a forever home.
Who will this study help? Humans, for sure, but the hope is that more dogs will find homes.
Here’s where the paw meets the grass: The question being studied is whether the canine/human bond can stimulate the production of good bacteria in our stomachs. If it does, then your need to buy probiotics and yogurt just took a huge step backward.
While there have been prior studies that suggest dogs can improve our microbiota – or good gut bacteria – this will be the first study to delve into whether this improvement also leads to better health.
The researchers’ hope is that their analysis will show that the emotional support and stress reduction has immune system enhancing effects.
How it Works
Participants who are 50 and up in Arizona will be paired with a shelter pup. The one restriction in this study is that participants can’t have taken antibiotics or lived with a dog for the past 6 months.
Both participants … canine and human … will have a non-invasive test done at the start of the study to measure levels of good bacteria in their guts. Multiple follow-up evaluations will be done during a three month period of time to determine whether this cohabitation has improved the bacteria in both dog and person.
At the close of three months, participants have the option to adopt the shelter dog but it isn’t a requirement of participation.
How to Help Outside of Arizona
Head over to the campaign’s online crowd funding campaign and donate: http://www.gofundme.com/. Your gut may be glad you did!
Reference link: http://www.takepart.com/article/2015/04/28/dogs-provide-benefitial-bacteria
image credit: istockphoto.com