EXPOSURE to 'dog dust' or the dried skin flakes that fall from Fido may protect against development allergies and asthma later in life.
A new study in mice, reported during the proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences, has revealed the finding.
The Huffington Post reports the dust may contain bacteria that, when present in an animal's gut, affects the production of immune cells in the animal's airway.
"Perhaps early life dog exposure introduces microbes into the home that somehow influence the gut microbiome, and change the immune response in the airways," said study researcher Susan Lynch, an associate professor of medicine at the University of California, San Francisco.
Past research has shown that exposure to pets, particularly dogs, during infancy may prevent people from developing allergies, and other work has found that bacteria in the gut can affect allergies and asthma.
The new study adds to the research because it links these ideas - showing that the reason exposure to dog dust may prevent allergies is that the dust affects the population of gut microbes.