Flash Flood Watch
until MON 12:00 AM MST, Northwest Plateau, Lake Havasu and Fort Mohave, Northwest Deserts, Grand Canyon Country, Coconino Plateau, Yavapai County Mountains, Little Colorado River Valley in Coconino County, Little Colorado River Valley in Navajo County, Little Colorado River Valley in Apache County, Western Mogollon Rim, Eastern Mogollon Rim, White Mountains, Northern Gila County, Lake Mead National Recreation Area, Yavapai County Valleys and Basins, Oak Creek and Sycamore Canyons, Western Pima County including Ajo/Organ Pipe Cactus National Monument, Tohono O'odham Nation including Sells, Upper Santa Cruz River and Altar Valleys including Nogales, Tucson Metro Area including Tucson/Green Valley/Marana/Vail, South Central Pinal County including Eloy/Picacho Peak State Park, Southeast Pinal County including Kearny/Mammoth/Oracle, Upper San Pedro River Valley including Sierra Vista/Benson, Eastern Cochise County below 5000 ft including Douglas/Wilcox, Upper Gila River and Aravaipa Valleys including Clifton/Safford, White Mountains of Graham and Greenlee Counties including Hannagan Meadow, Galiuro and Pinaleno Mountains including Mount Graham, Chiricahua Mountains including Chiricahua National Monument, Dragoon/Mule/Huachuca and Santa Rita Mountains including Bisbee/Canelo Hills/Madera Canyon, Santa Catalina and Rincon Mountains including Mount Lemmon/Summerhaven, Baboquivari Mountains including Kitt Peak, Aguila Valley, Northwest Valley, Tonopah Desert, Gila Bend, Buckeye/Avondale, Cave Creek/New River, Deer Valley, Central Phoenix, North Phoenix/Glendale, New River Mesa, Scottsdale/Paradise Valley, Rio Verde/Salt River, East Valley, Fountain Hills/East Mesa, South Mountain/Ahwatukee, Southeast Valley/Queen Creek, Superior, Northwest Pinal County, West Pinal County, Apache Junction/Gold Canyon, Tonto Basin, Mazatzal Mountains, Pinal/Superstition Mountains, Sonoran Desert Natl Monument, San Carlos, Dripping Springs, Globe/Miami, Southeast Gila County

Smooch from the pooch; are kisses from your dog good for you?

There's nothing like a smooch from our pup. Some love it; others call it gross. But some believe dog kisses might actually keep us healthy.

"There's a lot of evidence that pets help people emotionally," explains Dr. Charles Raison, psychiatrist and researcher at the University of Arizona.

Dr. Raison and his team are studying whether dogs -- specifically dog kisses -- can offer humans a physical health boost.

"We think the dog kiss on the skin, or the oral cavity, there's a transfer, and that transfer is like taking a probiotic, and taking very complex probiotic," continued Raison.

It's all thanks to communities of bacteria called microbiota. These organisms live in us and on us, and their effect can reach our brain and impact how we think and feel.

The question now: How do dog kisses help balance good bacteria with bad bacteria in our gut? The theory is that the probiotic effect can protect us from chronic conditions like asthma and allergies, as well as hard-to-treat drug-resistant disease caused by superbugs.

"We know dogs make people feel better. We want to understand the mechanism that they make people feel better and if turns out that some of making people better is changing the gut composition. Not only does that provide novel ways of thinking why dogs are important," said Raison, "If we understand what they do in the gut, maybe it will devise other ways other probiotic ways of doing the same things, and that might someday be antidepressants."

Some may wonder if dogs can make us sick. Dr. Raison says in the past, dogs carried far more parasites and people more frequently became infected with worms. Now dogs are healthier so it's far less likely.

Even so, he believes, the parasites dogs passed onto humans may have had a beneficial effect, priming our immune systems so they would not overreact later, leading to life-threatening allergies and auto-immune disease. It's called the "hygiene hypothesis."

The current study involves adults over the age of 50. Results are expected by next year.

His next study will involve children at a very early age. He hopes to place dogs in homes of children who may be at risk of not having enough good bacteria in their guts. That might include babies born by cesarean section or those who were hospitalized.

MORE INFO:
Dr. Raison: http://psychiatry.arizona.edu/raison
Hygiene Hypothesis:http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC2841828/pdf/cei0160-0001.pdf