Think your pet-filled home is a bacteria factory? Well, guess what, it is - and, as Martha Stewart would say - that's a good thing.
A study, published in PLoS ONE, found that homes with dogs had more bacteria, including types that are rarely found in dogless homes.
“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,” co-author Rob Dunn, an associate professor of biology at North Carolina State.
“We can tell whether you own a dog based on the bacteria we find on your television screen or pillow case,” he added. “For example, there are bacteria normally found in soil that are 700 times more common in dog-owning households than in those without.”
Here's the good news: it may translate to healthier children.
For example, women who have a dog in the home when pregnant, for example, are less likely to have children with allergies. This may be the result of the woman and her unborn baby being exposed to a wider array of microbes and the child is then less-susceptible to allergies. (We wonder if that also includes pet allergies, because how often are dogs and cats given up because a toddler has developed allergies?)
The full scientific study is more than a bit dense for the lay person, but it boils down to this:
When you bring a dog into your house, you are not just bringing a dog, you are also introducing a suite of dog-associated taxa directly into your home environment, some of which may have direct or indirect effects on human health.
And the bottom line is: that effect appears to be positive.
A Discovery summary of the paper here.