Human-Animal Bond Lecture Series | HABRI

Human-Animal Bond Lecture Series

sponsored by IDEXX

The Association of Pet Ownership, the Gut Microbiome, and Cardiovascular Disease Risk Among Older Adults

About the Session

This lecture will feature a conversation with Dr. Katharine Watson, MA, BVMS, about her 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”, which aims to determine whether living with a cat or dog is associated with a richer and more diverse adult gut microbiome and whether this, in turn, may mediate reduced prevalence of cardiovascular disease (CVD). 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.

CVD is the leading cause of death and disability and the most common non-communicable disease in the developed world. Gut microbiota are associated with numerous diseases, including CVD, through dynamic interactions with the host and environment. Research shows 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.

During the lecture, Dr. Watson will explain the rationale for this study and expected results, as well as the potential contribution of this research to the field of human-animal interaction. To the researchers’ knowledge, this is the first study to evaluate the gut microbiota of adult pet owners, and the first to test the hypothesis that gut microbiota are influenced by pet ownership to reduce risk of CVD.

Veterinarians and animal health professionals who watch this lecture live on HABRI’s website at will be eligible to receive 1-hour CE credit as approved in jurisdictions that recognize RACE approval through the American Association of Veterinary State Boards (AAVSB).

About the Speaker

Dr. Katharine Watson

School of Public Health, Indiana University

Dr. Katharine Watson is a fourth year PhD student studying epidemiology at Indiana University.  Dr. Watson has also been a practicing small animal veterinarian since 2007. Her recent research has focused on associations between the human gut microbiome, pet ownership, and cardiovascular disease.


The American Gut Project

The Microsetta Initiative