Dogs and Schizophrenia

Dogs and Schizophrenia

  • Ever since we domesticated dogs, it has provided us with companionship and emotional well-being. A study suggests that being around dogs from an early age may lessen the chances of developing schizophrenia.
  • The relationship between exposure to a pet cat or dog during the first 12 years of life and a later diagnosis of schizophrenia or bipolar disorder was investigated.
  • Earlier studies have said that exposure to these pets may alter the immune system by changing a home’s microbiome and pet-induced stress reduction effects on human brain chemistry.
    • Eg:  “immune modulation” may reduce the risk of developing psychiatric disorders.
  • Explanations for this possible ‘protective’ effect from contact with dogs say that something in the canine microbiome gets passed to humans and bolsters the immune system against or subdues a genetic predisposition to schizophrenia.
  • A better understanding of mechanisms would aid in developing appropriate prevention and treatment strategies.

Do you want to read more about this topic?

  1. Robert Yolken, Cassie Stallings, Andrea Origoni, Emily Katsafanas, Kevin Sweeney, Amalia Squire, Faith Dickerson. Exposure to household pet cats and dogs in childhood and risk of subsequent diagnosis of schizophrenia or bipolar disorder. PLOS ONE, 2019; 14 (12): e0225320 DOI: 10.1371/journal.pone.0225320

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