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Study: Do Slobbery Dog Kisses Lead to Better Human Health?

A new study aims to prove that living with dogs produces better gut bacteria, and in turn better health and well-being.

Michael Leaverton  |  Mar 23rd 2015

How many times has your dog come running up and planted his mouth — full of bacteria and goo and saliva and slime and likely traces of fecal matter somewhere in all that — right on your lips for a giant slobbery kiss and you think, This can’t be good for me?

Good news! It just might be!

At least that’s what researchers at the University Arizona are trying to prove, believing that “microbes contained in a dog’s gut could have a probiotic effect on the human body,” according to the Independent.

“We think dogs might work as probiotics to enhance the health of the bacteria that live in our guts,” said the principal investigator for the study, Dr. Charles Raison. “These bacteria, or ‘microbiota,’ are increasingly recognized as playing an essential role in our mental and physical health, especially as we age.”


“We essentially want to find out, is a dog acting like yogurt in having a probiotic effect?” said anthropology doctoral student Kim Kelly, who’s also an investigator on the study.

The study will take dogs from a humane society and have them live with humans for three months. At the start of the study, researchers will evaluate the gut bacteria of both dog and human, along with their diet, physical activity levels, and immune functions. They’ll test every month to see if the pairings have had any “positive impacts” on gut bacteria, and on health and well-being.


Kissing, alas, is not part of the study, but researchers aren’t concerned — dogs spread around their bacteria pretty well by licking everything in sight, including human faces.


“We’ve co-evolved with dogs over the millennia, but nobody really understands what it is about this dog-human relationship that makes us feel good about being around dogs,” said Kelly. “Is it just that they’re fuzzy and we like to pet them, or is there something else going on under the skin?”

“The question really is: Has the relationship between dogs and humans gotten under the skin? And we believe it has.”

Check out this video on the study:

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