Bloomington, IN (September 30, 2020) — The Human Animal Bond Research Institute (HABRI) will fund a new study conducted by Indiana University-Bloomington’s School of Public Health researchers Drs. Alyce Fly, Ming Li, and Katharine Watson. The researchers aim to characterize the impact of pet ownership on the adult gut microbiota, which has been shown to influence the role of cardiovascular disease (CVD) development. Fly, Li, and Watson hypothesize that differences in the gut microbiota of cat and dog owners relative to non-owners are associated with reduced CVD risk.
“Studies have found that living with cats or dogs imparts health benefits associated with the gut microbiota of infants and children, such as a reduced risk of developing asthma and other immune-related diseases,” Principal Investigator Katharine Watson, MA BVMS, explains. “Studies have also shown that gut microbiota health is associated with reduced cardiovascular disease (CVD) risk. However, it is not known whether the gut microbiota of adult pet owners differs from non-owners. As pet ownership is associated with benefits to the gut microbiota of infants, it is probable that adults who live with pets may have similar benefits and that these may play a role in CVD risk reduction.”
“HABRI is proud to support this novel research into the relationship between pet ownership, gut microbiota, and risk of developing cardiovascular disease,” HABRI Executive Director Steven Feldman notes. “Science tells us that pets can influence the physical and mental health of owners, and this project will explore an important aspect of the physiological underpinnings of the human-animal bond.”
Drs. Alyce Fly and Ming Li will serve as co-investigators on the study which may help 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 CVD. CVD is the leading cause of death and disability and the most common non-communicable disease in many countries, including the United States.
The research team will analyze data from the American Gut Project (AGP), a cross-sectional dataset containing RNA samples and paired metadata, including pet ownership, demographic, lifestyle, and health information. Approximately 2,000 people aged 50 to 85 will be included using data collected between 2012 and 2020. Gut microbial species will be characterized and statistical analyses will be used to estimate the association between microbial species, cat and dog ownership, and CVD. A mediation analysis will test whether the gut microbiome influences any difference between the prevalence of CVD among cat and dog owners and non-owners.
“To our 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 mediated by pet ownership to reduce CVD risk,” Watson says.
More Press Releases
Nature’s Variety Supports Human-Animal Bond Research
The Human Animal Bond Research Institute (HABRI) announced today that Nature’s Variety®, makers of natural, wholesome and delicious pet food has become an official supporter of HABRI and its research into the health benefits of the human-animal bond. “At Nature’s Variety, we believe in the power of pure, real nutrition to keep beloved pets healthy and happy. The human-animal bond is so central to our mission to give pets everything they need for a long and happy life with us,” said Reed Howlett, CEO of Nature’s Variety. “Supporting research into the human health benefits of pets is a perfect complement to our mission. We support better health for people and pets together.” Scientific evidence increasingly shows that pets improve heart health; alleviate depression; increase well-being; support child health and development; and contribute to healthy aging. In addition, companion animals can assist in the treatment of a broad range of conditions from post-traumatic stress to Alzheimer’s disease to autism spectrum disorder. The benefits of the human-animal bond impact more than just human health. Findings from a recent HABRI survey of 2,000 pet owners demonstrate that knowledge of the scientific research on the human-animal bond motivates pet owners to take better care of their pets. Specifically, when educated about the scientific research on the health benefits of pets, 88% of pet owners are more likely to provide their pets with high quality nutrition. “HABRI is thrilled to add Nature’s Variety as a HABRI supporter,” said Steven Feldman, Executive Director of HABRI. “By joining forces with HABRI, Nature’s Variety is demonstrating its leadership in the pet care community!” “From HABRI research, we know that healthy pets transform the lives of people through the human-animal bond – and Nature’s Variety transforms the lives of pets by empowering pet owners to provide their pets with natural nutrition,” added Howlett. “While HABRI does...
Phillips Pet Food & Supplies Supports Human-Animal Bond Research
The Human Animal Bond Research Initiative (HABRI) Foundation announced today that Phillips Pet Food & Supplies has joined the organization’s Steering Committee and made a $25,000 contribution to support research on the human health benefits of companion animals. “Phillips Pet Food & Supplies is proud to support the HABRI Foundation and its mission to study the healing power of pets,” said Blaine Phillips, CEO of Phillips Pet Food & Supplies. “We represent more than 375 vendors and 700 brands of quality pet products across the nation, and understand that the better we take care of our pets, the better they will take care of us.” “Phillips Pet Food & Supply is a leader in keeping pets happy and healthy,” said Steven Feldman, Executive Director of HABRI. “By supporting HABRI, Phillips is demonstrating its dedication to the incredible bond pets share with their owners.” HABRI has assembled a growing body of scientific evidence that pets improve heart health; alleviate depression; increase wellbeing; support child health and development; and contribute to healthy aging. In addition, companion animals can assist in the treatment of a broad range of conditions from post-traumatic stress to Alzheimer’s disease to autism spectrum disorder. “Phillips Pet Food & Supplies customers, the independent retailers, play a major role in strengthening the human-animal bond,” Phillips added. “We’re going to work together to develop and share even more information about how pets make people, families and communities happier and healthier.”
Dave’s Pet Food Supports HABRI
The Human Animal Bond Research Institute (HABRI) announced today that Dave’s Pet Food, a leader in high-quality and affordable nutritious food for dogs and cats, has become an official supporter of HABRI and its research on the human health benefits of companion animals. “In addition to our mission at Dave’s Pet Food to provide pet owners with the food they need to keep their pets health and happy, we’re proud to be supporting HABRI’s efforts to fund scientific research on the health benefits of pets,” said Dave Ratner, Founder of Dave’s Pet Food. “The need to provide pets with healthy, high-quality food is an essential part of strengthening the human-animal bond.” “Supporting HABRI helps to raise awareness of the health benefits of the human-animal bond, which we know motivates pet owners to take better care of their pets,” said Steven Feldman, Executive Director of HABRI. “HABRI is grateful for the support from Dave and Dave’s Pet Food and looks forward to working together to help pet owners take the best possible care of their pets.” Increasingly, scientific evidence reports that pets can boost heart health, alleviate depression, improve well-being, support child health and development, and contribute to healthy aging. Additionally, companion animals can assist in the treatment of a broad range of conditions—from post-traumatic stress to Alzheimer’s disease to autism spectrum disorder. The benefits of the human-animal bond impact more than just human health. HABRI survey research demonstrates that understanding the scientific research behind the human-animal bond motivates pet owners to take better care of their pets, including providing pets with high-quality nutrition and maintaining their veterinary health. About Dave’s Pet Food Dave’s Pet Food combines nutritious, yummy, high-quality pet food for owners looking for healthy options for their cats and dogs—at an affordable price. Dave’s formulas were developed to be wholesome...