Pet owners are at higher risk of IBS – and cat and dog poop may be the culprits, study suggests 

Pet owners are at higher risk of IBS – and cat and dog poop may be the culprits, study suggests

  • There are over 135 million pets belonging to 85 million families in the US alone
  • Pet ownership has been shown to improve blood pressure and mental health 
  • But new East Tennessee State University research found that you are more likely to develop IBS if you have a pet 
  • The researchers suspect that pet feces may disrupt people’s microbiome 

Having pets may put you at greater risk of irritable bowel syndrome, a new study suggests. 

The odds that people with cats, dogs or even fish at home will have IBS are 1.26 times higher than those that prefer animals stay outside and away from them. 

It’s a slight increase in risk, but enough for East Tennessee State University researchers to say there’s a link. 

They suspect that being around your pet’s poop and dandruff could throw off your microbiome and contribute to the development of IBS, but cannot yet say for sure. 

Being around animal feces may be the reason that pet owners are more likely to have to run to the toilet due to IBS than other people are, new research suggests 

Some 85 million families and individuals own pets, for a total of 77 million dogs, 58 million cats and another several million fish, birds, horses, rabbits and more – in the US alone.

That means there are definitely more animals in the US than there are people in Mexico and, likely, Russia, too.

Many studies and even the CDC extol the health benefits of pet ownership, including everything from feeling less lonely to lower blood pressure.

And, of course, the last decade has seen pets themselves become ‘treatments,’ with thousands of emotional support animals registered in the US. 

But it’s not all puppy kisses and kitten purrs in the world of pet owners. 

They’re more prone to worms and tick- and flea-borne diseases than their friends without furry friends are.  

And the latest research suggests their pets poop might be messing with their own. 

By analyzing data on 2,883 patients, East Tennessee State University research team found that the odds ratio for developing IBS if you own a pet is 1.26 to one (if you don’t own a pet), 

When you welcome a pet into your home, you welcome in all of its hair and dead skin shedding, mites, ticks, fleas, flies and gnats that follow it around too.  

Those are just the macro-organisms. 

Pet poop is also teeming with bacteria. 

Every year, the average dog owner will spend more than 48 hours scooping their beloved pooch’s leavings – and that’s plenty of time to inhale or ingest microscopic bits of dog bacteria. 

Last year, scientists discovered that human and dog microbiomes are much more similar than previously thought. 

However, even a transplant of one human’s feces to another human has been shown to alter the bacteria profile. 

IBS, which causes cramps, gas, pain, bloating, diarrhea and constipation, doesn’t have a definitive cause, but doctors think that diet, stress, inflammation and changes to the gut’s bacterial profile may contribute the the development of the chronic condition.

The East Tennessee scientists suspect that both pet poop and the dander and dust they carry may disrupt their owners’ gut microbiome and contribute to IBS. 

However, it’s not clear which specific pets are most closely linked to IBS in their human parents.