New Pilot Study: Dogs and Microbes in the Thames

Oxford Interdisciplinary Microbiome Project (IMP) members, Jamie Lorimer and Carmen McLeod, are collaborating with Andrew Singer from the NERC Centre of Hydrology and Ecology to carry out a new pilot study in Oxfordshire involving dog walkers and their dogs. The aim of the study is to gather data that begins to map out the microbes that dogs are exposed to when interacting with the River Thames, as well as gathering associated qualitative data from dog walkers. This research will involve a mixed methods approach, including the analysis of genetic material from dog faeces and a qualitative survey, with follow up interviews and a focus group with dog owners.

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What will the study involve?

Dog walkers who take part in the study will be asked to complete a short survey about their dog and any interactions with the River Thames, like swimming or drinking. We will also be asking for a sample of their dog’s poo, which will be sequenced in the lab by Andrew and a PhD student, Holly Tipper, in order to find out what microbes are present and the prevalence of genes that indicate exposure to river water. Dog owners who participate will be invited to provide their contact details if they wish to find out the results of the data collection, and to discuss the results of the sequencing at interview and in a focus group.

We are commencing our study on Saturday 18th November at the Bullcroft Park in Wallingford from 9 am (Waitrose-side entry), so if you are walking your dog in the area and are interested in finding out more, please come along and say hello to the team.