Loyal, forgiving, loving — dogs are indeed man’s best friend.

But until now we didn’t know how good for us they really are. Research shows that children who were exposed to a dog regularly in early infancy have a lower risk for developing allergies and asthma.

New research indicates that has to do with “gut microbes.”

Scientists at the University of California-San Francisco and the University of Michigan introduced cockroach or protein allergens to mice. They found that inflammatory responses in the lung (as associated with asthma) decreased significantly in mice that had been exposed to dust associated with dogs.

The team posits that their findings explain why children who live in houses with dogs from birth have a reduced allergy risk.

Researchers think their findings could provide a strategy for protecting people against pulmonary infection and allergic airway disease.

Good dog!