Dog owners and their pups can get close. After reading this article, some might say too close because, as it turns out, dogs and their people are sharing skin bugs left and right. In fact, they're sharing skin microbes so much that two dog owners who are strangers actually have more in common on a microbial level than a non dog owning married couple has with each other. And you thought you were having trouble relating to outside people!
Recent research out of the University of Colorado - Boulder examined groups of people who were living together to see how they all shared skin bacteria. The groups were divided based on couples who lived alone, couples who had a dog, couples who had kids and no dogs and couples who had dogs and kids. Couples who lived with dogs and kids, unsurprisingly, shared the most skin bacteria, though couples with dogs and no kids also shared a high amount. The microbes were spread mostly through shows of affection like petting and licking (from the dogs, not from the humans).
Yes, this is disgusting, but only because life is disgusting in that beautiful BEAUTIFUL way. Everything you touch leaves bacteria on you and you, filthy human, leave bacteria on everything you touch. For the most part, that's healthy, even when it comes to a dog's skin bugs. (Skin bugs skin bugs skin bugs — can you feel the words crawling on you? SKIN BUGS.)
“Most of the dogs’ [microbes] will be more beneficial than harmful,” says UC Boulder associate professor and the study's co-author Rob Knight, also adding that kids who grow up in a house with dogs experience lower rates of asthma and allergies. “Microbes are actually helpful,” he says. “If most of the microbes were out to get us, we’d really be in trouble.”
If you still feel uncomfortable and embarrassed about the amount of skin bacteria that you share with your dog, consider for a moment that this might be just as embarrassing for him or her — dogs tend to have more microbes in common with their owner than they do with their fellow canines. Do you know how much shit they get from wolves for this?
Image via Andresr/Shutterstock.