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How to treat your doggie like an athlete

Folkloric orange recipes that work to rid a dog of fleas include rubbing an orange over your dog

Photos and books by Anne Hart.
Treat your dog like an athlete. Folkloric home-made orange and lemon recipes that work to rid a dog of fleas include rubbing an orange over your dog's coat. Another way to use an orange to kill fleas on dogs without irritating your dog's skin is to make use of the orange skins you peel from the oranges you eat. Dogs don't like the smell of citrus fruits. Also natural insect repellent can be made from spices such as cinnamon or herbs such as mint, thyme, garlic, basil, cloves, black pepper, or rosemary. Since this information is for educational purposes only, please first ask your veterinarian about safety and your dog's sensitivity to any substance before you put anything on your dog.

So all you're doing is rubbing the skin of the orange on the dog's coat. Before you rub anything on your dog, please make sure your dog isn't sensitive/allergic/having an adverse reaction to anything rubbed on the dog's coat. But first the orange skins need to be prepared. For a medium-sized dog, you could use about five oranges, and only the skins (not the juice or pulp) is used. Remember that your dog will lick his or her fur. So you don't want anything toxic on your dog's tongue. And citrus licked by a dog won't taste good to the dog.


To prepare the orange skins, first put the rest of the orange aside for people to eat. Then rinse off any orange juice from the skins. Next, you put the skins in a pot or pan diluted with at least a cup of water for each orange. Simmer the oranges for an hour or two and keep adding water as the water evaporates.


Your goal is to reduce the liquid in the pot so you get the orange oil out of the skins into the water. Oil and water don't mix, so you're reducing the liquid to get orange oil. But you want the orange oil diluted enough to brush onto the dog's fur. You want the oil released from the skins of the oranges. As soon as the orange skins become soft as they are boiled/simmered, take them out of the pot. Next, put the skins in a blender and puree them with some liquid from the pot. Then put the pureed orange skins back into the pot. Stir and let the mixture cool.


Folkloric home-made orange and lemon recipes to get rid of dog fleas: Also insect repellent made from spices such as cinnamon or herbs such as mint, thyme, garlic, basil, cloves, black pepper, or rosemary.

When cooled to barely warm, strain the liquid into a container. It can be kept in plastic, but not in metal. Or put it in a glass jar to store, but pour it from the glass jar to a plastic container if you're near the dog. You don't want the dog to suddenly move and have the glass jar break and hurt you and the dog. So use plastic containers when around the dog. You can keep the mixture for about a week in the refrigerator. Or you can freeze the orange oil and use it after it thaws for several weeks.


Try a small amount of the cooled mixture on your dog's fur. You can use the mixture at slightly warm temperature or body temperature if you test it on the inside of your arm to make sure you are not heating up the mixture too much. Dogs don't like cold liquids on their body either. So if it is coming out of the refrigerator, you can warm it up slightly.

When you put the mixture on your dog's fur, rub it wherever the fleas may be hiding such as behind the dog's ears or on the tail. If the dog's skin feels irritated and the dog reacts, don't continue. You don't know whether your dog will be allergic to it or sensitive or not. So test a small spot first to see the dog's reaction and what the dog's skin looks like. You don't want to irritate or redden your dog's skin.


The easiest way to rid your dog of fleas using home-made orange oil is to mix an ounce of the oil or even a half-ounce of the mixture with half of a bottle of dog shampoo. Then give your dog a regular bath. Don't dump the mixture directly on the dog's fur unless you know whether or not your dog is sensitive to the orange oil. And don't use commercial orange oil meant to clean ovens, floors, or kitchen appliances because it may be mixed with other chemicals and is not diluted or meant for the skin of any animal.


Another use of the oil, after diluting it, besides rubbing it on your dogs is to spray your dog's toys with it or the dog bed. The oil on a dog's harness or collar can keep the fleas away as insects usually don't come close to the scent of orange oil.


Don't buy commercial orange oil cleaners or other mixtures for use on a dog's or human's skin because they're not suitable for being on you or your dog's skin. Some orange oil mixtures you buy commercially are meant to clean ovens and are harsh and not meant for skin. That's why latex or plastic gloves are worn when you use orange oil to clean stove tops or ovens. Any home-made orange oil should be diluted with water and used with dog shampoo, and never applied directly to the skin as a concentrated oil.


Also, your dog may lick at anything put on the animal's fur in an attempt to get it off.

Other concoctions to make at home to prevent fleas from coming onto your dog's include lemon. Check out the recipe for lemon and lavender, "Natural ways to prevent fleas." That recipe calls for 6 lemons, 50 drops of lavender essential oil, and 3 cups of water. To make the mixture, you also boil the lemons with the skin on and let it cool overnight in your refrigerator.


Just as in the orange recipe, with the lemon and lavender recipe, you also strain the liquid into a spray bottle and add the 50 drops of lavender oil. But instead of rubbing it on your dog, you spray the mixture on your dog each time your dog goes outside or after bathing your dog.


You can also spray or soak his collar in the mixture to make a flea collar of your own. The mixture can be sprayed on rugs, carpeting and furniture or even in your yard to prevent fleas from settling in from surrounding areas, the recipe site notes. But before you spray anything on your dog or your rugs or furniture, you need to make sure the concoction won't stain fabrics and won't irritate your dog's skin. Test a small area to make sure your dog isn't sensitive to the diluted mixture of lemon and lavender.


Dogs usually hate citrus fruit scents because it doesn't smell anything like proteins such as meat or cheese or starches such as dog biscuits made from grains or potatoes. So test a small area, including to see whether the lemon spray bleaches or discolors your carpets or furniture before you spray any large area of your home.


The reason to test your dog's reaction is that some animals are sensitive to any type of citrus or acid on their skin. Your dog usually will lick at any unwanted scent on the fur or rub himself/herself on carpet, soil, or grass to remove the scent, as you often see after a doggy bath. The lemon and lavender scent also can be used in moderation as an air freshener.


Insect repellent made from spices such as cinnamon or herbs such as mint, thyme, garlic, basil, cloves, black pepper, or rosemary


To repel mosquitoes which will be coming as soon as the temperature rises to 65 degrees F. You can use foods and spices such as cinnamon or herbs like basil instead of having to inhale the fumes of commercial insecticides. Use one or more of these spices and herbs such as cinnamon, basil, garlic, thyme, mint, cloves, lemon grass, black pepper, or rosemary, according to the site, "Different Types Of Spices That Repel Mosquitoes." You can use one or more of these plants. Check out the video with the herbal recipe on the YouTube site, "How to Make Mosquito Repellent."


The recipe, "How to Make Mosquito Repellent" on YouTube video called for mixing witch hazel, aloe vera gel, tea tree oil, eucalyptus oil, geranium rose, but to use more familiar items in most kitchens, you could try substituting olive oil instead of witch hazel and apple cider vinegar instead of aloe vera. Try it out first to see whether this recipe works with mosquitoes.


Other folkloric mosquito repellents you can make from herbs and spices suggest selecting fresh herbs, not the powdered ones to keep mosquitoes out of your yard. When it comes to what to rub on your skin, try spices that don't cause an allergic reaction or reddening of your. For some that might be a dab of mint, cloves, or basil.


Lemon Eucalyptus oil also repels mosquitoes in your yard or home. What you can do is to use insect repellant that works against mosquitoes. But you don't have to buy commercial insecticides. You also can make natural mosquito repellents for use outdoors. Check out the site, Lemon Eucalyptus Oil to Repel Mosquitoes. Also mild soap bubbles applied to the leaves of some plants help repel some insects as an alternative to commercial insecticides. See, "World's Best Green Insecticide is Old Fashioned Wisdom."


Holistic family health practices also apply to the family pet when it applies to white coat fever--fear of being examined by a health professional


Treat your dog like an athlete with holistic health approaches that focus on relaxation and safety for the dog. In fact the University of California, Davis studies how the same protein in dogs and people may cause the same type of blood cancer.


Thunder shirts work well on dogs with anxiety. For some dogs, just being examined creates hypertension and sometimes trembling in fear. Some humans react the same way in a medical setting. See, Thundershirt For Dogs - Get the #1 Cure for Dog Anxiety.

Interestingly, some humans need what feels like a thunder shirt, particularly autistic children who need to feel 'hugged' by an environmental, clothing, or personal device. Autistic kids may wear sensory-friendly shirts. See, Sensory friendly Gifts for Kids with Autism. Also see the site, Sensory Clothing.


Regarding the health of both dogs and people, research is ongoing. For example check out the UC Davis article, Protein may play key cancer role in dogs and people. Dogs and humans may have similar health issues and stress reactions to unfamiliar clinical settings much of the time.


Some dogs may get high blood pressure from anxiety while being examined by veterinarians


And not only do dogs and people suffer from cancers caused by similar mutations, but now scientists at another university have found that some dogs are so afraid of doctors in white coats--or anyone wearing a white coat, that the dog's blood pressure rises similarly to humans who get high blood pressure at the sight of a person in a white coat--white coat fever. It's a fear that rapidly raises blood pressure in humans and in dogs. A new study shows the white coat effect elevates the blood pressure of some dogs.


See the September 6, 2011 article published in the Journal of Veterinary Internal Medicine, "'White-coat effect' elevates greyhounds' blood pressure." The study is from Ohio State University.


According to this news release, 'white-coat effect' elevates greyhounds' blood pressure – The "white-coat effect" is not reserved for only the human patients who see their blood pressure rise in response to the stress of a doctor visit. In a new study, researchers have determined that anxiety associated with being in a veterinary hospital elevates the blood pressure in retired racing greyhounds – a breed known for having higher-than-average blood pressure in the first place.


The average systolic arterial pressure – the top number in a blood pressure reading – in the dogs was about 30 points higher in a veterinary clinic when compared to blood pressure recorded at home. The environment seemed to make all the difference. Blood pressure readings recorded in a home were similar when taken by either a veterinary student or the dog's owner. In general, normal blood pressure in dogs, as in humans, is 120 over 80.


Some animals' blood pressure readings normalize after they've had time to acclimate to the hospital setting, but in these greyhounds, that trend is less common. According to the researchers, this study suggests that the presence of the dog owner might have a more calming effect than the passage of time in the clinic.


"We see a lot of greyhounds and they are very high-strung dogs," said Guillermo Couto, professor of veterinary clinical sciences at Ohio State University and senior author of the study, according to the news release.


"Some greyhounds come in here with blood pressure above what an instrument can read – that is 300 systolic. We know this could not really be their blood pressure because these dogs would be dead. But we also almost never get blood pressure under 150 or 160 for systolic.


"In the study, their blood pressure was nearly normal at home, independently of whether the researcher or the owner checked the pressure. To my knowledge, nobody has documented that white-coat effect in dogs with hard data before."


Why are some dog's blood pressures normal at home, but high when seeing humans in white coats at clinical environments?


Most people know why people get high blood pressure at the sight of a white coat--fear of being diagnosed with something that causes pain or mortality, fear of surgery to come, or fear of being told one is sick. Dogs, like people can have panic attacks while being treated.


Some people go into a panic attack when their blood pressure is being taken, particularly if they had parents who suffered with high blood pressure for years only to succumb to diseases, strokes, or heart disease related to having familial high blood pressure passed from generation to generation. But what causes the dog's blood pressure to rise when the dogs see someone in a white coat?


Most of the estimated 200,000 pet greyhounds in the United States are former racers that have been adopted at the end of their careers. Couto and colleagues recommend that retired racing greyhounds' blood pressure be recorded in the home if possible to provide a more accurate measure.


The study is published in the Journal of Veterinary Internal Medicine. See the study, White-Coat Effect on Systemic Blood Pressure in Retired Racing Greyhounds. Volume 25, Issue 4, July/August 2011, Pages: 861–865, C.L. Marino, R.E. Cober, M.C. Iazbik and C.G. Couto. The article was first published online: May 25,2011, DOI: 10.1111/j.1939-1676.2011.00735.x.


The scientists performed the study with 22 retired racing greyhounds that are enrolled in a blood donor program at Ohio State's Veterinary Medical Center. The average age of the dogs was 7 ½ years. Twelve were male and 10 were female. Blood pressure measurements were taken in three different ways: in the veterinary medical center by a veterinary student wearing scrubs; in the dog's home by that same student, again wearing scrubs; and in the home by the dog's owner.


In-home blood pressure readings were taken between seven and 28 days after the hospital measurements to avoid any effects of the dogs' blood donations during their hospital stays. The owners then followed the student's in-home reading 24 hours later.

The student used a specialized machine and instructed each owner on how to use it, providing reading material and offering a demonstration. The machine costs about $1,500, but Couto said manufacturers are currently working on developing a less expensive and more user-friendly device that could be used by dog owners in a home setting.


The researchers recorded systolic pressure, diastolic pressure – the lower number in a blood pressure reading, mean arterial pressure and heart rate. The systolic and mean arterial pressures, as well as heart rate readings, taken in the hospital were significantly higher than all of those same measures taken in the home environment. The average hind-limb systolic pressure was 165, compared to at-home measures of 131 and 133 when taken by the researcher and the owner, respectively.


"This study emphasizes the need to consider the environment in which the blood pressure is measured before diagnosing or eliminating hypertension," Couto said, according to the news release, "'White-coat effect' elevates greyhounds' blood pressure."



Not All Dogs Reacted Stressfully to White Coats or Clinical Environments


Unlike the blood pressure readings, heart-rate levels, while still higher than in the home, were lower in the clinic among "veteran" greyhounds that had frequently visited the hospital before the study. According to the researchers, this finding suggested that acclimation to the clinical environment did affect this particular stress response. So would dogs as well as humans do better if they got used to frequently being around a clinical environment and getting blood pressure readings taken?


The researchers also found that the limb used to measure blood pressure affected the results. Measures were taken in both forelimbs and hind limbs. Measures tended to be higher in the back legs, but the reasons for this were not determined by the study.

Couto and his colleagues are now exploring whether retired racing greyhounds' hypertension resulting from this white-coat effect causes any damage to their kidneys or other organs. Couto, an oncologist, is leading a number of studies on these animals to gauge the effects of racing on their health, as well as likely genetic contributions to their high risk for bone cancer. Since he adopted his first retired racing greyhound 20 years ago, he has been committed to investigating their physiologic idiosyncrasies.


"They're hypertensive and yet they don't have target organ lesions that people with hypertension get. They have strokes, unlike most dogs, but the strokes they have are different from strokes in hypertensive humans.


"Their kidneys and eyes don't take a beating from the high blood pressure," he explained according to the news release. "So my thinking is that greyhounds are 'Type-A personality' dogs. They are raised in a racing environment, but they are pack animals, so this stresses them out. And then once they retire, they are couch potatoes. We're trying to put all of this together, and it's all aimed at promoting wellness in these dogs."


This research was supported by the Ohio State University College of Veterinary Medicine Summer Student Research Fellowship Program and Ohio State's Greyhound Health and Wellness Development Funds. Co-authors include fourth-year student Christina Marino, clinical instructor Richard Cober and Maria Iazbik, managing director of the Animal Blood Bank, all of Ohio State's College of Veterinary Medicine.


Recording your dog's life story highlights? In the book, How to Video Record Your Dog's Life Story: Writing, Financing, & Producing Pet Documentaries, Drama, or News, you’ll see samples of very low cost budgets for making an easy to understand, cost-effective dog documentary or video celebrating your dog’s life story. Browse this book at the publisher’s site. You also may wish to see the short video on YouTube,  How to Video Record Your Dog's Life Story: Budgets - YouTube. Or listen to the longer audio on Internet Archive.


Your dog needs another dog friend in addition to human friends


Natural bonding behavior is not confined to humans: many animals also seem to need relationships with others of their kind. A dog and his or her handler is similar to a parent-child relationship. Just like a child needs a friend other than parents, so your dog also needs a dog friend.

Scientists at the  University of Veterinary Medicine - Vienna, (Vetmeduni Vienna) have investigated the bond between dogs and their owners and have found striking similarities to the parent-child relationship in humans. Their findings are published in the journal PLoS ONE. You also can read the original scientific article online. Besides dogs needing to socialize with other dogs and humans, dogs also need a dog best friend.
Man’s best friend, the dog, needs animal friends, too

People have an innate need to establish close relationships with other people. But this natural bonding behavior is not confined to humans. Many animals also seem to need relationships with others of their kind, scientists explain in a June 21, 2013 news release, "Man's best friend."


For domesticated animals the situation is even more complex and pets may enter deep relationships not only with conspecifics but also with their owners. Domestic dogs have been closely associated with humans for about 15,000 years. The animals are so well adapted to living with human beings that in many cases the owner replaces conspecifics and assumes the role of the dog’s main social partner. The relationship between pet owners and dogs turns out to be highly similar to the deep connection between young children and their parents.


The importance of the owner to the dog


One aspect of the bond between humans and dogs is the so-called "secure base effect”. This effect is also found in parent-child bonding. Human infants use their caregivers as a secure base when it comes to interacting with the environment, according to the June 21, 2013 news release, "Man's best friend."


Until recently the “secure base effect” had not been well examined in dogs. Lisa Horn from the Vetmeduni’s Messerli Research Institute therefore decided to take a closer look at the behavior of dogs and their owners. She examined the dogs’ reactions under three different conditions: “absent owner”, “silent owner” and “encouraging owner."

The dogs could earn a food reward, by manipulating interactive dog toys. Surprisingly, they seemed much less keen on working for food, when their caregivers were not there than when they were. Whether an owner additionally encouraged the dog during the task or remained silent, had little influence on the animal’s level of motivation. 


When the owner is replaced by a stranger


In a follow-up experiment, Horn and her colleagues replaced the owner with an unfamiliar person. The scientists observed that dogs hardly interacted with the strangers and were not much more interested in trying to get the food reward than when this person was not there.


The dogs were much more motivated only when their owner was present. The researchers concluded that the owner’s presence is important for the animal to behave in a confident manner. 

Why do adult dogs behave like human children?


The study provides the first evidence for the similarity between the “secure base effect” found in dog-owner and child-caregiver relationships. This striking parallel will be further investigated in direct comparative studies on dogs and children. As Horn says in the June 21, 2013 news release, Man's best friend, “One of the things that really surprised us is, that adult dogs behave towards their caregivers like human children do. It will be really interesting to try to find out how this behavior evolved in the dogs with direct comparisons."


Check out the original study, "The importance of the Secure Base Effect for Domestic Dogs – Evidence from a Manipulative Problem-Solving Task." The study by authors Lisa Horn, Ludwig Huber and Friederike Range  is published online in the journal PLoS ONE.

The research was supported by grants from the Austrian Academy of Sciences, the University of Vienna and the Austrian Science Fund. The dogs were recruited both at the Clever Dog Lab of the Messerli Research Institute and at the Family Dog Research Program at the Eötvös Loránd University in Budapest, Hungary.


You know you have bonded with your dog when the canine's bacteria is on your skin


Individuals harbor quite different bacteria on their skin. When it comes to being a dog person, you can prove it by looking at the dog bacteria on human skin which appears on people who are close to dogs, notes an April 18, 2013 NPR news article, "Bacteria On Dog Lovers' Skin Reveal Their Affection.


Humans who share their homes with canines also share the similar bacterial house guests on their skin, say ecologists Tuesday in the journal eLIFE. Check out the original research, "Cohabiting family members share microbiota with one another and with their dogs."


The study explains that "two dog owners who don't even know each other have about as many of the skin bacteria in common as a married couple living together," according to the news article. Do the bacteria from dogs ever get washed off with each shower, only to be put back when the dog comes over to be touched by the human or the dog bowl is touched with each pet feeding? And how long does the dog bacteria remain after the household has no more pets?


Scientists concluded that it may be easier to exchange skin microbes via exposure to home surfaces or indoor air (both of which are typically dominated by skin-associated microbes; Fierer et al., 2010), than it is to exchange gut or mouth bacteria, potentially because skin surfaces may be less ‘selective’ environments compared to the gut or mouth environments.


The dog bacteria that clings to human skin comes from the paws and tongue of the dog. But there wasn't an analogous germ signature for cat owners, the scientists say. But the bacteria on human skin doesn't stop at dogs, the news article explains. The human skin also harbors unknown bacteria. Check out the February 5, 2007 news release, "Human skin harbors completely unknown bacteria."


A 2007 study found that human skin has many more types of bacteria than previously thought


It appears that the skin, the largest organ in our body, is a kind of zoo and some of the inhabitants are quite novel, according to a new study. Researchers found evidence for 182 species of bacteria in skin samples. Eight percent were unknown species that had never before been described.


It is the first study to identify the composition of bacterial populations on the skin using a powerful molecular method. Not only were the bacteria more diverse than previously estimated, but some of them had not been found before, says Martin J. Blaser, M.D., Frederick King Professor and Chair of the Department of Medicine and Professor of Microbiology at NYU School of Medicine, one of the authors of the study. See, NYU Langone Medical Center / New York University School of Medicine.  


"The skin is home to a virtual zoo of bacteria," he says in the news release. This study was published February 5, 2007, in the online edition of the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences. See, "Human skin harbors completely unknown bacteria - Arrow Scientific."


The researchers analyzed the bacteria on the forearms of six healthy subjects; three men and three women. "This is essentially the first molecular study of the skin," says Dr. Blaser in the news release. The skin has been, he says, terra incognita, an unknown world that he and his colleagues have set out to understand much like explorers.

"There are probably fewer than ten labs in the U.S. looking at this question," says Dr. Blaser in the news release. "It is very intensive work," he adds. Zhan Gao, M.D., senior research scientist in Dr. Blaser's lab, led the research, which took more than three years to complete.


Some of the bacteria on the skin appear to be more or less permanent residents; others are transient, according to the study


This research is part of an emerging effort to study human microbial ecology. Dr. Blaser's laboratory has previously examined the bacterial population in the stomach and the esophagus. "Many of the bacteria of the human body are still unknown," he says. "We all live with bacteria all our lives and occasionally we smile, so they're not that bad for us."

The most numerous cells in our body are microbial—they outnumber our cells 10 to 1.


The body has microbes native to the body, including the skin, and these populations change according to how we live, he says. "Ultimately what we want to do is compare disease and health," says Dr. Blaser. Keeping bacterial populations in our body stable may be part of staying healthy, he explains in the news release.


In the new study, the researchers took swabs from the inner right and left forearms of six individuals picking the region halfway between the wrist and the elbow for its convenience. "It's not where they wash their hands," explains Dr. Blaser. "And they don't have to undress." The researchers wanted to be able to compare two similar parts of the body. Because they also wanted to study change over time, they took swabs from four of the individuals 8 to10 months after the first test.


Roughly half, or 54.4%, of the bacteria identified in the samples represented the genera Propionibacteria, Corynebacteria, Staphylococcus and Streptococcus, which have long been considered more or less permanent residents in human skin.

The six individuals differed markedly in the overall composition of the bacterial populations on their skin.


They only had four species of bacteria in common: Propionibacterium acnes, Corynebacterium tuberculostearicum, Streptococcus mitis, and Finegoldia AB109769. "This is a surprise," says Dr. Gao. "But many things affecting the skin affect bacteria, such as the weather, exposure to light, and cosmetics use."


Almost three-quarters, or 71.4%, of the total number of bacterial species were unique to individual subjects, suggesting that the skin surface is highly diversified in terms of the bacteria it harbors, according to the study.


Women and men may harbor different types of bacteria on their skin


Three bacterial species were only found in the male subjects: Propionibacterium granulosum, Corynebacterium singulare, and Corynebacterium appendixes. While the sample is too small to draw conclusions, the scientists believe that women and men may harbor some different bacterial species on their skin.


In each individual, the bacterial populations varied over time while revealing a core set of bacteria for each individual. "The predominant bacteria don't change much," says Dr. Gao. "But the more transient bacteria did change over time," she says in the news release. "What that suggests," adds Dr. Blaser, "is that there is a scaffold of bacteria present in everybody's skin. Some stay and others come and go."


Finding the method


To obtain a sample Dr. Gao rubbed a swab on each individual's forearms. "We didn't tell them to be particularly clean, we just made sure they didn't take antibiotics up to one month prior to the test," Dr. Gao explains. She chose three men and three women to have a balance of genders. She set up a clean room so the samples didn't risk contamination.


Traditionally, bacteria are cultured in the lab in Petri dishes, which contain a medium to grow bacteria. But the method leads to inaccuracies, she explains, because only a fraction of bacteria in a sample grow in that medium. So the team used a powerful molecular method that involved extracting a subunit of genetic material called 16S ribosomal DNA from the samples. "It is kind of a common currency, it's a conserved gene," says Dr. Blaser. Another advantage is that there is a large database of 16S ribosomal DNA available to scientists.


The ambitious task for this study was to gather samples, prepare them, amplify the bacteria creating colonies of each single species of bacteria present in the skin samples. Then Dr. Gao used established tools—primers—to pick out the species-specific genetic regions in the bacteria. After sequencing those regions, the 16S ribosomal DNA (rDNA) in each colony, she consulted 16S rDNA databases to determine the bacterial species present in each sample. Many bacteria in the database only exist as sequences and have nether been named or extensively studied. Those are termed SLOTUs, or species-level taxonomic units.


Taxonomy and the study results


To distinguish organisms from one another, biologists group and categorize them. Species or SLOTUs are small categories. There are larger groupings such as genera and phyla. Humans, for example, belong to the phylum chordata, the genus Homo and the species Homo sapiens. The molecular method used in this study revealed differences between the bacterial populations in individuals. Other methods had previously not shown those differences.


The team found a total of 182 species or SLOTUs and 91 genera of bacteria in the skin samples


The samples yielded mainly three phyla of bacteria: Actinobacteria, Firmicutes, and Proteobacteria. Ninety-four point six percent of the bacteria were in these phyla. These phyla were found in all six tested individuals. When compared with earlier studies, the researchers found that these three phyla are also dominant in the esophagus and the stomach. In terms of bacterial species, however, the insides of the body, for example the stomach, and the exterior of the body, the skin, show vast differences in bacterial populations.


Skin condition can change markedly due to a variety of factors such as climate, diet, personal hygiene, and disease. But skin is never devoid of bacteria, particularly its more permanent residents. That is not bad news, after all, in healthy individuals these bacteria are not pathogens. "Without good bacteria, the body could not survive," says Dr. Gao.


The next step for the research team is to look at diseased skin


"We plan to ask the question: Are the microbes in diseased skin, in certain diseases like psoriasis or eczema, different than the microbes in normal skin?" says Dr. Blaser in the news release. The National Institutes of Health (NIH) funded the study along with a Senior Scholar Award from the Ellison Medical Foundation, and also funding by the Diane Belfer Program in Human Microbial Ecology in Health. The authors of the study are Zhan Gao, M.D, Chi-hong Tseng, Ph.D., Zhiheng Pei, M.D., Ph.D, and Martin J. Blaser, M.D.


Interestingly, in the other study of dog bacteria on human skin, the various types of research on bacteria on human skin points to whether a dog person is really a dog person because the individual loves dogs or because the person touched the dog's bowl, chew toy, or bedding. The exchange of bacteria wouldn't reveal the emotions a person had toward the dog's care and wellbeing. But it might show if someone visited a home and breathed the air or touched the furniture where there lives a dog. You also may wish to check out my article on crafting organic pet beds.