Science Says We Are Your Body’s Best Friend

Letters from Watson

Letters from Watson

Hello Again,

I was informed that my mom wrote about pets being actually good for  your health in her newsletter. Well of course we are! Anybody knows that. But just in case you are a skeptic, I offered to tell you that  there has been real research done on the subject. (I have NO IDEA why  anybody would doubt it and have to “scientifically validate” it, but  here goes)

It used to be thought that pets should be avoided by people with  babies because the kids might become allergic if there was a pet around.   (Who thinks these things up?!) Well, a number of studies (if you need that sort of reassurance) have apparently shown that kids growing up  with “furred animals” (e.g., dogs, cats, large farm animals) have less  risk of allergies and asthma! In a recent study, James E. Gern, M.D., a pediatrician at University of Wisconsin-Madison, published a study in  the Journal of Allergy and Clinical Immunology. He analyzed the blood of  babies just born and then analyzed their blood again when they were a  year old looking for allergic reactions, immune system changes, and for  reactions to environmental bacteria. What he found was that, if a dog  lived in the home, the babies were less likely (19%) than their  dog-deprived counterparts (33%) to have eczema and they showed stronger  immune system activation. He said that “greater exposure to dirt and  allergens “causes babies to develop stronger immune systems. (Well, I  don’t know if it’s really the exposure to dirt because I don’t think we  are at all “dirty”…. I think it’s because those babies that had us  around were just played with and loved a lot more because we were  there!)

Studies show that pets are helpful for shy people, for Alzheimer’s  patients (and their caregivers!), and people with HIV/ AIDS. Several  studies have shown that people who’ve had a heart attack survive longer if they have pets than those who are pet-deprived. Men who have pets  have been found to have lower triglyceride and cholesterol levels than  men who don’t, which makes them less prone to heart disease (see and  read more at:

Another article, from the London Dog Forum (which is my kind of forum for sure….   reports beneficial effects of dogs on humans including lowered blood  pressure, relief of pain, stress, and depression, helpful in the  recovery convalescents, supportive with HIV and drug dependent  individuals, successful in regulating weight and reducing weight-related   problems (including easing arthritic pain), helping breast cancer  survivors cope, improving survival rates post-heart attack, and in  increasing concentration, empathy toward others, and self-esteem and  reducing hyperactivity in children. In addition, the Forum notes that a study reported by The Society of Anthrozoology, in 2009, showed that  “adults recovering from total joint replacement needed 50% less pain  medication than those not using pet therapy.”

In 1991, a nice British fella named Serpell did a study on the  Beneficial Effects of Pet Ownership on Some Aspects of Human Health and  Behavior (  He published it in the Journal of the Royal Society of Medicine (a very  serious journal) and I feel really guilty about being so happy about  his results. He studied 71 adult humans following the acquisition of a  new dog or cat. He had a control group of 26 pet-deprived humans to  compare them with. All the humans with pets demonstrated a “highly  significant reduction in minor health problems” during the first month  after they got their pets and the positive effect was sustained in those  who had dogs though a 10-month follow up. The whole group with pets  showed improved scores on the 30-item General Health Questionnaire over a  6-month period and those with dogs, specifically, showed improved  scores for the full 10 months of the study (meaning that cat people  didn’t do quite as well… and that’s why I feel guilty for being so happy  about these results… I mean, I like cats… don’t get me wrong… I had one  and he’s here playing with me now. His name is Ace. But I am proud to  be a dog so I’m a little biased.) The group without pets showed no  statistically significant changes in health or behavior other than a  small increase in recreational walking, but the dog people walked  considerably more. And walking is always good, as far as I’m concerned, and I know that Oliver and Dudley agree with me… (though Bailey, of course, does not). All the smells and sounds… all the messages left for you on trees… just Heavenly (and I should know about that).

I Remain Yours… In Love and Light,
Watson with Wings