Pet Smarts: 8 Reasons Having a Dog or Cat Is Good for Your Health

By Emily G.W. Chau

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Careless Cat
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Pets Boost Immunity

Sick as a dog? Maybe it's time to get one. Petting a dog can up your levels of immunoglobulin A, an antibody that fights off the common cold, according to a study at Wilkes University. It's likely a result of that "man's best friend" thing, says James A. Serpell, PhD, director of the Center for the Interaction of Animals and Society at the University of Pennsylvania. "We know that social support -- or a lack of it -- directly affects the body's immune system and impacts our resistance to infections and disease." A companion who acts as if it's Christmas morning every time you walk through the door? Now that's a support system.

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