Today is National Love Your Pet Day, which focuses on pampering our pets and acknowledging the special place they hold in our lives. Whether you have a dog, cat, tortoise, gerbil, snake or fish, take time to appreciate the benefits they bring to your life today. #nationalloveyourpetday
These benefits include:
- Being a companion and helping to reduce loneliness – for those confined to the indoors, pets other than cats or dogs can be particularly useful, as spending time talking to them, stroking them, even cleaning out their cage, may help reduce feelings of loneliness.
- Helping to reduce stress – stroking a pet has been associated with reducing levels of cortisol (the stress hormone) in the body. And playing with a dog has been shown to elevate levels of serotonin and dopamine – compounds known as neurotransmitters that are produced in the body and have pleasurable and calming properties.
- Similarly, when we are sick or upset our dogs (and some cats) seem to sense this and can be a great source of comfort.
- Encouraging us to get outside and get more exercise – although this mostly applies to those of us with dogs that need walking every day -or those owners who take their cats for walks!
- Helping to reduce allergies in children – a study found that 18-year-olds who’d had a cat or dog in the family when they were a baby were around half as likely to be allergic to that animal as those who didn’t have an animal in the house.
- The benefits of having a dog as a baby have also been shown to apply to other allergies, including eczema and asthma.
- Although adopting a pet later as an adult may not help your immune system in the same way, taking in a cat or dog at any age will provide benefits as it will introduce different strains of bacteria into your home and this can help to benefit our microbiome (see below).
- Taking a dog to the park can help us to strike up a conversation with other people walking their dog and make new friends – and can sometimes even lead to romantic liaisons.
- Getting our children involved with taking care of their pets, feeding, cleaning, walking and playing with them, can help to teach them responsibility and empathy.
- Pets have also been shown to support children and adults with learning difficulties – helping to bring calm and comfort at difficult times.
- A pet can also alert us to strangers and intruders and help to bring a sense of safety.
Whilst any pet can bring its own benefits, the dogs in our lives have another special benefit, that is particularly relevant to our microbiome.
The hygiene hypothesis and dogs
The hygiene hypothesis suggests that our modern-day sterile home environments are increasing the risk of allergy and illness as our immune system needs to be exposed to a variety of different bacteria in order to mature.
Supporting this hypothesis, studies have shown that babies living in homes with dogs have more diversified gut bacteria than children who live in pet-free homes. Further studies have shown that school-age children who grew up with dogs have a lower incidence of allergies and asthma
And dog owners have been shown to have both more and different skin bacteria than non-dog owners (harmless bacteria that include beta proteobacteria from dogs’ tongues and actinobacteria from dogs’ paws) – suggesting that dogs make our homes less sterile and carry friendly bacteria that they pass on to their owners both through licking and the bacteria they walk through the home.
The natural environment supports our microbiome
In addition, getting outside with our dogs, walking on the beach and/or in the woods or other natural environments, means that we both benefit from exposure to the natural bugs and bacteria present in our environment – especially if we get muddy. This again may help to support our overall microbiome and our gut bacteria in particular.
Time to celebrate and get outside with our non-human companions. #nationalloveyourpetday
Want to know more?
Pro-Ven Probiotics aim to provide the best support for both you and your health. If you wish to know more about gut health and staying healthy please do not hesitate to call us on 01639 825107 or alternatively, learn more via our blogs or in-depth proven research.
ProVen Probiotics, Unit 2 Christchurch Road, Baglan Industrial Park, Port Talbot, SA12 7DJ. Tel: 01639 825107