Study: Feeling good about pet increases vet visits

The “Pet Owners and the Human-Animal Bond” survey from HABRI looked at online responses of 2,000 pet owners

Pet owners who understand the health benefits of keeping a dog or cat are more apt to return the favor by providing better veterinary care, according to a survey.

The “Pet Owners and the Human-Animal Bond” survey, a collaboration between the Human-Animal Bond Research Initiative (HABRI) Foundation and the Cohen Research Group, looked at online responses of 2,000 pet owners.

“When educated about the scientific research on the human-animal bond, pet owners are more likely to take important measures to improve pet health and augment their relationship with their veterinarians,” said Michael Cavanaugh, DVM, Dipl. ABVP, CEO of the American Animal Hospital Association, a HABRI sponsor.

Once informed about the health benefits derived from a pet, 92 percent of those surveyed indicated that they would be more likely to maintain their pet’s health, including ensuring regular vaccines and preventive care.

Participants were a knowledgeable bunch, with 71 percent admitting they had heard about scientific research touting the health benefits of owning a pet, while 88 and 86 percent, respectively, knew that pets reduce stress and ease depression.

Other findings included:

  • 89 percent would be more inclined to maintain their pet’s health, including regular exams, after learning how their own health is intertwined with having a pet.
  • 88 percent would be more likely to provide their pet with higher quality nutrition.
  • 74 percent noted mental health benefits from having a pet.
  • 51 percent would seriously think about getting pet health insurance.

“When people find out that pets improve heart health, decrease stress, help alleviate depression and address specific conditions that include autism, PTSD and Alzheimer’s, they become more focused on caring for their pet’s health,” said Steven Feldman, HABRI’s executive director.

A generational divide was reported in the perceived health value of owning a pet. Some 83 percent of baby boomers saw the health value of pets, while 72 percent of Gen Xers and 62 percent of Millennials felt the same.

“HABRI gives us another way to connect with pet owners to enhance that care,” Dr. Cavanuagh said.

“More awareness of human-animal bond science improves veterinary care and leads to a healthier pet population,” Feldman said.

The full survey results are at the HABRI website.

HABRI is based in Washington, D.C.

Originally published in the November 2016 issue of Veterinary Practice News. Did you enjoy this article? Then subscribe today! 

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