Allergy insights from the mutts’ guts

2 minute read

Our best friends may hold key to a healthier microbiota.

It’s an often-observed phenomenon that dog owners and their dogs resemble each other.

Sheet it home to human narcissism, but it’s no coincidence that the tattooed bovver boy owns a pit bull terrier while Tina the ballerina has a miniature poodle that wears sequinned booties.

But could dog owners have even more in common with their pooches than just physical resemblance? Could they also perhaps share similar health issues?

The answer to that is most definitely yes, according to research published this week in the Royal Society Open Science journal.   

Scientists from the University of Helsinki have been looking into the rising trend in non-communicable chronic inflammatory diseases both in humans and their pet dogs and how that coincides with changes in Western lifestyle.

In particular, they studied the influence of diet, antibiotic use, and residential environment with housing and family on the gut microbiota of healthy and atopic pet dogs, searching for relationships between the lifestyle factors, atopy and microbiota.

What they found was that the gut bugs of our canine companions are influenced by the same factors as those which play havoc (or otherwise) with the human gut biome.

The research showed that atopic and healthy dogs had different gut microbiota and that diet affected microbiota composition, but also that diet and atopy were not clearly associated. Instead, the atopy was associated with the use of antibiotics, which also affected the microbiota composition.

And that’s important to know, because it means boffins can use dogs’ guts as a model to further study the link between antibiotics and allergies in humans.

So chalk up another win for the dog people over the cat people, not that the cats (or their servants) will give a rats.

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