Dogs and dust microbiota in asthma prevention: a masterstroke?
Dogs not only bring affection and entertainment into the home, their presence also modifies the dust microbiota, which may have a preventive and protective effect against asthma for young dog owners.
About this article
All dog owners have experienced it: their pooch sheds hair everywhere, testing the patience of those who try to keep their home spotless. From his forays outdoors, Fido brings many microorganisms back inside. Their presence modifies the microbiota of the dust in our homes, potentially explaining the protective effect of dogs against asthma.
Fido’s influence on the dust microbiota...
A team of researchers thus carefully examined the dust of 182 rural-suburban homes in Finland (56 with a dog) and 284 urban homes in Germany (18 with a dog). The results were conclusive: Fido’s presence went hand in hand with greater bacterial diversity and the increased abundance of certain bacteria in house dust. Seven bacterial genera were found to be much more abundant in homes with dogs. Conversely, Fido’s influence on fungi in the dust microbiota appeared to be more limited: only one yeast, known to occur in water and soil, was more abundant in homes with dogs.
...and the risk of asthma?
At the same time, bacteria typically associated with humans are reduced by a third when a canine companion lives in the home. All the better, since a high abundance of human-associated microbes may be linked to a greater number of human pathogens and an increased risk of developing asthma. According to the researchers, this relative reduction in “human” bacteria and/or the increase in “canine” bacteria may explain the reduced risk of respiratory infections and asthma in children who grow up with one or more pets. One more argument to support those who dream of adopting a four-legged companion... and of easing up on the housekeeping.
Mäki, J.M., Kirjavainen, P.V., Täubel, M. et al. Associations between dog keeping and indoor dust microbiota. Sci Rep. 2021 Mar 5;11(1):5341.