Your loveable pooch might be bringing a world of germs into your home, but don’t fret. Exposure to a wide variety of microbes may be good for us, according to a new research.
A new US study from North Carolina State University and the University of Colorado shows that households with canines are home to more types of bacteria than dog-free dwellings. You’ll find particularly high concentrations of dog-related microbes on TV screens and pillows. “We wanted to know what variables influence the microbial ecosystems in our homes, and the biggest difference we’ve found so far is whether you own a dog,” says Dr Rob Dunn, co-author of the study. “For example, there are bacteria normally found in soil that are 700 times more common in dog-owning households than in those without dogs.”
The researchers gave 40 families a home-sampling kit and asked them to swab nine locations within the home: a kitchen cutting board, a kitchen counter, a refrigerator shelf, a toilet seat, a pillowcase, a television screen, the main door’s exterior handle and the upper trimon both an interior door and an exterior door. The researchers then collected DNA to see which organisms were present. All told, the 40 homes harboured 7,726 different types of bacteria, with each location harbouring its own unique bacteria. “We leave a microbial ‘fingerprint’ on everything we touch,” says Dunn. “Sometimes those microbes come from our skin, sometimes they’re oral bacteria and — as often as not — they’re human fecal bacteria.”
Dunn and his colleagues then looked for variables that would alter bacterial communities from home to home, such as cats or children. The only one they found that made any difference was whether or not the family had a dog. According to the findings, pillow cases and TV screens of dog-owners had 42% and 52%, respectively, more microbial groups compared to those of non dog-owners.
But all those extra microbes may be good for your health, the scientists say. Prior research has found that women who have a dog in the home when pregnant are less likely to have children with allergies. Researchers suspect this is likely due to the boost the immune system gets from being exposed to greater numbers of microbes.