August 18, 2015 | Posted in Doctor Sigmund Furry Series

You-Dirty-Dawg-425PXDear Dr. Furry,

My Rat Terrier loves to roll around in the dirt patches in our yard, especially if he gets out when it rains. Of course, he comes in covered in mud. Can he pick up anything, like bad bacteria, and spread it to us?

Priscilla, Baltimore, MD

 

Dear Priscilla,

Dogs, like people, have some strange habits that make them feel good. Maybe your little guy likes to get down and dirty just for the heck of it! Who knows? Maybe he likes the contrast between feeling clean and feeling dirty or muddy. You’ll just have to anticipate putting him into the bathtub the minute he steps into the house.

Does he bring little presents of bacterium in with him?

Yes. But, it may not be as bad as you think. Our doggies are magnets for flora, fauna and other microfibers of God-knows-what in dirt. Studies at North Carolina State University have concluded that your pet will bring a million different microbes into your home, some of which may affect human health.

Other scientists have found in their studies that these microbes actually bolster the human immune system. Another finding said that children living with dogs had fewer allergies and were overall, healthy. Go figure.

My best advice would be to have a shampoo party! Wash the dog, wash your hands, wash your kids … and pave your yard.