A new scientific study
confirms that dogs are beneficial not only as pets, but also for helping fight allergies.
The study reinforces previous findings that children exposed to dogs and cats are less likely to develop allergies such as asthma.
In 2010, scientists at the University of California, in San Francisco, confirmed that immune responses were affected by microbes living in our guts. But they wanted to know if allergy protection due to exposure to dogs also worked through the gut bacteria.
In the new study, dust from a home without pets, and from a home with a dog that frequently went outside, was mixed with water and given to young mice that were later exposed to strong allergens.
Mice fed with dust from the dog owner's house had little or no allergic reactions, while the other mice had 'runny noses' and respiratory problems.
According to the report, published Wednesday in the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences
, mice with dog's dust had a large amount of a certain microbe in their guts. When the same microbe was fed to other mice, not previously exposed to the dog's dust, it also dampened their allergic reaction. They also were less sick when infected with a virus that causes humans to become asthmatic.
The new study provides additional evidence that a modern, cleaner way of life, makes us more prone to allergies and autoimmune disorders.