A new study suggests owning a dog might help lower your risk of obesity — and it’s not because you’ll be taking your four-legged friend for walks.
Researchers at the University of Alberta studied a group of families, all owning some kind of pet (70 percent of the households had at least one dog). They wanted to see if animals had an effect on a person’s weight, beyond the added benefit of routine exercise. The study revealed that’s it’s your pets’ germs, not just their walking schedule, that’s improving your quality of life.
Babies living in homes with dogs showed higher levels of two types of microbes, Ruminococcus and Oscillospira, associated with lower risks of allergic disease and obesity. Pets bring in bacteria through their fur and on their paws which helps build up our immune systems during early development. Though babies were the test subjects, science has proven an adult’s digestive system can be susceptible to change too thanks to diet and their environment and higher amounts of Oscillospira have been found in the guts of people who are thinner and who have more lean muscle mass.
Owning a puppy might not guarantee weight loss, but it definitely improves your chances of staying healthy in a variety of ways, including through your gut. That’s reason enough to adopt a furry best friend.