Is Your Dog Helping You Live a Better Life? Experts Weigh In

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Is Your Dog Helping You Live a Better Life? Experts Weigh In

Dogs have the power to calm us, to protect us but do they have the power to heal us? Studies and experts offer new ideas about the additional benefits of Man's Best Friend.

Healthy living seems to be on everyone's mind these days and it's not unnatural to extend those thoughts to our four-legged friends. Dogs, like humans, suffer from obesity due to overindulgence, lack of exercise and genetic predisposition. But what about the humans they cohabit with?

Is a pet more likely to be obese if his owner is? And vice versa?

Studies show that dogs and their humans (or hoomans, if you're into the social doggo speak) can actually impact one another's microbiome, which is best explained in an article from the New York Times.

According to uBiome, a company designed to help you identify and better understand your gut's microbiome and how it impacts your health, having a dog can affect your bacteria. In fact, in a 2013 study, UCSF scientists suggested that living with a dog in infancy may lower a child's risk of developing asthma and allergies, largely as a result of exposure to what they call "dog-associated house-dust."

Pretty cool, right?

The benefits of better gut health are constantly debated, updated and discussed by leading experts in the field -- and we'll let you read all about that on your own -- but all in all, what does this mean for our ever-evolving relationship with Fido?

According the The Bark, it can actually be helpful to get a little too close to your dog.

In an article with Dr. Robynne Chutkan, author of The Microbiome Solution, The Bark dove into what similarities we share with our canine counterparts. Dr. Chutkan said "although we share many of the same microbes, dogs in general have a more diverse microbiome than we do. Not surprisingly, some of their additional species are soil microbes (rolling in the dirt from time to time may be a habit worth copying!)."

Before you think about jumping into the dirt, it IS probably better to just go in for some snuggles instead.

She adds, "close contact with our dogs is hard to avoid, and that's a good thing, because they end up passing on some of their unique microbes to their owners, giving dog-owning households a microbial boost." For one, it means that staying connected to your dog is a good thing. Additionally, it means that taking care of your own diet and staying active could help them in the long run too.

Do you have to feed your dog a gluten-free or raw diet to be a good dog parent? The evidence isn't clear just yet, but understanding how much activity your dog needs could be the first step to determining how to make them stay healthy and happy for years to come.

Also, don't forget to check out The New York Times for more on our pets and our health.

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