To my surprise, studies of the effects of pets on human health and well-being have actually produced a mishmash of conflicting results. For example, some studies show pets lower your blood pressure--in some cases more than drugs do--but other studies found no effect, or even that pet owners have higher blood pressure!
One area where there's a bit more consistency is children's health. The presence of pets in the home appears to significantly decrease the risk of infectious diseases in children, including ear infections, respiratory illnesses, and gastroenteritis. But which pets work better-cats or dogs? Find out by watching my 3-min video Are Cats or Dogs More Protective For Children's Health? (starring members of my furry family!)
Protection from respiratory infections and tummy ailments is one thing, but what about cancer? See my video Pets & Human Lymphoma.
Of course it's best if you don't eat them! In my video Foodborne Rabies I explore the role the consumption of cat and dog meat may be playing in massive human rabies epidemics in Asia (WARNING: folks may find some of the concepts and images in that video disturbing). Though proper cooking destroys the rabies virus, careless preparation can lead to infection. Cross-contamination of foodborne pathogens during meat preparation is an issue regardless of the species, of course. See, for example, Food Poisoning Bacteria Cross-Contamination, and Unsafe at Any Feed.
-Michael Greger, M.D.