Everyone loves a good lick in the face from a favorite pooch and nothing’s better than snuggling in bed with your dog on a cold, blustery night. But the last thing on dog owners' minds is whether they'll share harmful germs with Rover. The good news is that research in an upcoming issue of the American Journal of Veterinary Research says that these snuggle-and-saliva-loving dog owners are no more likely to share the same strains of E. coli bacteria with their pets than other dog owners.
The study examined fecal samples from dogs and their owners and looked at the bacteria's DNA fingerprints. Researchers found that 10 percent of dog-human pairs shared the same E. coli strains and that the E. coli had more resistance to common antibiotics than expected, although the owners had more multiple-drug resistant strains than their pets.
While research showed that bonding behaviors between dogs and humans had no association to an increase in shared E. coli, the research did show an association between antibiotic-resistant E. coli and pet owners who didn't wash their hands after petting their dogs. Researches say the finding that these human-animal bonding behaviors aren't more likely to spread germs is good news because there are physical and psychological benefits of pet ownership.