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The Microbes you Share with Your Dog

With all the licking and petting, dogs and their owners share microorganisms. Dog ownership, writes Lisa Raffensperger at D-brief, may be a main factor influencing what microbes live on a person's skin.

In a new study, researchers led by the University of Colorado's Rob Knight examined the fecal, oral, and skin microbiota of 60 families with and without children or dogs. As they report in eLife, cohabitating partners shared many microbes, especially Prevotella and Veillonella, but people also had similar microbial communities as their dogs. Dogs, Raffensperger notes, harbor Methylophilaceae bacteria in their mouths that appear to make their way to dog owners' skin.

"It is intriguing to consider that who we cohabit with, including companion animals, may alter our physiological properties by influencing the consortia of microbial symbionts that we harbor in and on our various body habitats, and in particular, our skin habitats," Knight and his colleagues write.