Dog Kisses On The Mouth Healthy? Probiotics For Humans Discovered In Dog Germs

Heather Tooley

Dog kisses on the mouth may have a health benefit to humans. Scientists involved in the University of Arizona study believe that canines might offer probiotic benefits to people that are equal in health to a cup of yogurt or taking a probiotic supplement.

WSOC-TV 9 reports that scientists need volunteers and financial assistance for funding the project that will help tell them if dogs possess a probiotic useful to people. The study is especially geared towards the elderly, to find out if the same positive effects that children experience will result for them. Reports have already been published that children raised around dogs have less immune problems, such as asthma and other allergies. Antibiotics are key in eliminating disease-causing bacteria, but it's countered with killing off the good bacteria. Probiotics are essential in helping reduce this drawback.

As the University of Arizona's dog study indicates, dogs are great companions and this project could reveal if the "introduction of a dog into the home of older adults improves their sleep, their muscle and bone strength, their ability to move around, and their overall happiness and quality of life."

The University of Arizona's Department of Psychiatry is partnering with the Humane Society of Southern Arizona and colleagues at the University of Colorado at Boulder to conduct the study of dog kisses on the mouth provide a healthful effect on older people who are more prone to life-threatening diseases.

Related research has suggested that dogs "enhance" good bacteria in human bodies, possibly improving overall general health.

Volunteers in the dog kisses study must be between the ages of 50 and 80 and haven't had a dog in the last six months. Potential participants shouldn't have had antibiotics in the last six months, either. Lastly, volunteers selected for the study must be willing to foster a dog for three months.

Those with Bipolar 1 disorder, schizophrenia, or have had substance abuse or drinking problems won't be considered for this trial. Those who've had any conditions that alters immune functioning are exempt from the study. This would include interference of the GI tract, Chrohn's disease, and ulcerative colitis. Autoimmune disease is listed as another condition participants must not have had.

ABC News reports that Dr. Charles Raison is leading the UA study. He's a professor of psychiatry at the university's College of Medicine.

"If the dogs and human owners look similar microbiota-wise... then it means dogs are basically having probiotic-enhancing microbiota of human owners," Raison says.

Results of this "dog kisses" study will be interesting to see if canines can really offer more for humans than ever thought possible.

[Photo by Justin Sullivan/Getty Images]