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Dogs can have a beneficial impact on the microbiome of pediatric patients

In a fascinating study, researchers investigated microbial sharing between therapy dogs and pediatric oncology patients in a hospital environment. The main goal was to explore the potential impact of #therapydogs on the increased patients’ risk of microbial exposure.


Microbial samples were collected from the nasal mucosa of both pediatric patients and therapy dogs before and after each therapy session. High throughput 16S rRNA amplicon sequencing of V1-V3 region was conducted to characterize microbial communities.


Both pediatric patients and therapy dogs exhibited significant changes in the relative abundance and overall diversity of their nasal microbiome, indicating the occurrence of microorganism exchange. In this way, the authors suggest that exposure to therapy dogs has the potential to counterbalance the decrease in microbial diversity caused by specific therapies in pediatric patients.


Moreover, this study proposes that interaction with therapy dogs could be a novel way to mitigate this imbalance and transmit potentially beneficial microorganisms that may offer protection against the colonization and infection of hospital pathogens.


Full article: Dalton et al. Microbial Sharing between Pediatric Patients and Therapy Dogs during Hospital Animal-Assisted Intervention Programs. Microorganisms 2021



About the author

Dr. Aline Santana is a Brazilian veterinarian with over 12 years of experience in both research and private dermatology practice. In 2021, she completed her PhD in veterinary dermatology at the University of São Paulo (Brazil), with a sandwich period at the University of Minnesota, where she conducted research on the skin microbiome of cats. Since 2012, she has been an active member of the Brazilian Society of Veterinary Dermatology (SBDV). From 2015 to 2021, Dr. Santana served as the director of social media marketing, contributing to the organization's outreach and communication efforts.

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