This research is particularly exciting as it has the potential to shed light on new, physiological underpinnings of the human-animal bond – the relationship between pet ownership, the microbiome and heart health.
July 22, 2021
The Human Animal Bond Research Institute (HABRI) and IDEXX today hosted the fifth virtual lecture in the successful Human-Animal Bond Lecture Series, focused on the rationale and anticipated results of new, first-of-its-kind research exploring the influence of pet ownership on the gut microbiome and cardiovascular disease (CVD) risk in older adults.
This lecture, titled “The association of pet ownership, the gut microbiome, and cardiovascular disease risk among older adults”, features Dr. Katharine Watson, MA, BVMS, discussing her active HABRI-funded study, “The influence of pet ownership on gut microbiota composition and cardiovascular disease risk among 50 to 85-year old United States adults”. Dr. Watson is a small animal veterinarian and epidemiology doctoral student in the Department of Biostatistics and Epidemiology at Indiana University, School of Public Health.
The human microbiota is made up of trillions of cells, with the biggest populations residing in the gut. Research has shown the human microbiome is important for our nutrition and immunity to disease, including CVD, through dynamic interactions with the host and environment. More than 20% of inter-person microbiota differences have been found to be related to demographic or environmental factors, and the degree to which pet ownership influences the composition of the gut microbiota in adults is largely unknown. Dr. Watson’s research aims to determine whether living with a cat or dog is associated with a richer and more diverse gut microbiome in older adults and whether this, in turn, may mediate reduced prevalence of cardiovascular disease (CVD).
“A substantial body of evidence supports pet ownership for mental health and wellness, which has been such a focal point during the pandemic. Much of the science on the physical health benefits of pets involve the association between pet ownership and physical activity. This research is particularly exciting as it has the potential to shed light on new, physiological underpinnings of the human-animal bond – the relationship between pet ownership, the microbiome and heart health,” said Steven Feldman, President of HABRI. “HABRI is grateful for IDEXX for making this lecture possible and looks forward to following and sharing Dr. Watson’s progress on this important research, which has the potential to make a significant contribution to the field of human-animal interaction.”
Professionals who viewed this session live are eligible to receive RACE-approved Continuing Education (CE) credit through the American Association of Veterinary State Boards (AAVSB). The lecture, along with the others in the series will remain available on-demand at http://www.habri.org/HAB-Lectures.
HABRI is a not-for-profit organization that maintains the world’s largest online library of human-animal bond research and information; funds innovative research projects to scientifically document the health benefits of companion animals; and informs the public about human-animal bond research and the beneficial role of companion animals in society. For more information, please visit https://www.habri.org/.
IDEXX Laboratories, Inc. is a member of the S&P 500® Index and is a leader in pet healthcare innovation, serving practicing veterinarians around the world with a broad range of diagnostic and information technology-based products and services. IDEXX products enhance the ability of veterinarians to provide advanced medical care, improve staff efficiency, and build more economically successful practices. IDEXX is also a worldwide leader in providing diagnostic tests and information for livestock and poultry, tests for the quality and safety of water and milk, and point-of-care and laboratory diagnostics for human medicine. For more information, please visit https://www.idexx.com/en/.
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