We already know kisses from our pups improve happiness, but a new study launched at the University of Arizona will investigate whether contact with dog saliva also boosts immunity

By Maria Yagoda
Updated March 22, 2015 10:40 PM

For those of us addicted to our dogs’ heartfelt licks, here’s some excellent news: We may soon have scientific evidence proving they’re good for our health.

An upcoming study at the University of Arizona will explore whether bacteria found in dog saliva can minimize allergic reactions – sneezing, itching, hives – and several other immune responses.

According to ABC News, the study will assign several people between the ages of 50 and 60 to a dog companion, and then, over the course of 12 weeks, measure each person’s immune response. (Is it too late to sign up?)

The study’s lead researcher, professor of psychiatry Dr. Charles Raison, hypothesizes that dogs’ saliva (and thus, their kisses) could act as a “probiotic” that could have a significant impact on humans’ immune health.

If the dogs and human owners look similar microbiota-wise … then it means dogs are basically having probiotic-enhancing microbiota of human owners, Raison told ABC News.

Cat lovers, take heed – you are not necessarily included in this joyous scientific inquiry.

“Dogs spread their bacteria around more than cats do, particularly because dogs like to lick things and lick people and lick themselves in the process,” said Dr. Donna Hummell, a clinical director of Pediatric Allergy and Immunology at Vanderbilt University.