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Awareness of the Human-Animal Bond Increases Investment in
Veterinary Care  

As a veterinary professional, you probably know intuitively that pets are good for people – you see the results of the human-animal bond in your practice every day. Research backs up this intuition. There’s a growing body of evidence to support the belief that animals have a positive effect on our health. What veterinary professional may be surprised to learn, however, is that just by discussing the health benefits of animals with pet owners, you can inspire them to invest in their pet’s health.

According to market research conducted by the Human Animal Bond Research Institute (HABRI), pet owners are statistically more likely to invest in non-critical veterinary care like check-ups when their veterinary care providers talk about how pets contribute to their well-being. In fact, 61% of all pet owners (74% of millennial pet owners) are more likely to schedule subsequent appointments when a veterinarian talks about the health benefits of the human-animal bond. It’s a powerful opportunity to spread the good word about companion animals and to help ensure their owners invest in the health care the animal needs.

61% of  all pet owners and 74% of millennial pet owners are more likely to schedule subsequent appointments when a veterinarian talks about the health benefits of the human-animal bond.   
Here are a few key talking points to get clients thinking about the health benefits of their pets:
  • In a recent economic study, the HABRI Foundation calculated that the United States saves $11.7 billion per year in healthcare costs as a result of the health benefits of pet ownership. 
  • Approximately 60% of dog owners met the criteria for regular moderate and/or vigorous leisure-time physical activity compared with about 45% for non-dog owners.
  • Exposure to cats and dogs at an early age has been shown to strengthen children’s immune systems and help shield against asthma and eczema later in life.
  • In 2013, The American Heart Association issued a scientific statement connecting pet ownership to the prevention of cardiovascular disease.
  • If you’ve ever owned a cat, your relative risk of death by heart attack decreases 40%. 
  • Dog-assisted therapy has been shown to improve mood, psychosocial functioning and quality of life in elderly dementia patients living in residential senior’s care facilities.
  • Research strongly indicates that individuals with Autism Spectrum Disorder (ASD) benefit from interaction with animals. Studies show that children with ASD respond positively to animal-assisted intervention, developing increased social functioning capabilities such as improved social awareness, interaction, social skills and behaviors.
  • In addition to providing cancer patients and their families with support, a growing body of research is examining the potential for dogs to detect cancers in humans. In one study, dogs were tasked with sniffing human breath and stool samples for the cancer “scent.” It found that canine detection of colorectal cancer is almost as accurate as colonoscopy detection methods, especially for early-stage cancers.
  • Cancer patients undergoing chemotherapy that had a weekly hour-long session of therapy with a dog rated their symptoms of depression and anxiety half as severe as those who did not.
  • Studies of pediatric cancer patients show that animal-assisted therapy (AAT) helps to improve sleeping, eating, exercise, socialization, anxiety levels, motivation and self-esteem for these children. 
  • In a comprehensive review of studies on the impact of animal-assisted intervention for Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder, results show reduced depression, symptoms and anxiety. The presence of an animal is purported to reduce isolation and act as a comforting reminder that danger is no longer present.
  • A 2012 study exploring the effects of the presence of dogs at work found that employees with dogs at work experienced less stress and greater job satisfaction than those in the control group with no dog.

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The Human Animal Bond Research Institute

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