Results Show 75% of Doctors said Patients’ Health Improved as the Result of Getting a Pet
Washington, D.C. (October 27, 2014) — The Human Animal Bond Research Initiative (HABRI) Foundation, today released the results of a first-of-its-kind survey detailing the views of family physician on the benefits of pets to human health.
“Doctors and their patients really understand the human health benefits of pets, and they are putting that understanding into practice” said HABRI Executive Director Steven Feldman. “The Human Animal Bond Research Initiative funds research on the evidence-based health benefits on humananimal interaction, and this survey demonstrates that we are on the right track.”
HABRI partnered with Cohen Research Group to conduct an online panel survey of 1,000 family doctors and general practitioners. This is the largest survey of its kind to explore doctors’ knowledge, attitudes and behavior regarding the human health benefits of pets. The 28-question survey was conducted in late August 2014 and had a margin of error of plus or minus 3.1%. The physicians in the survey had a median of 18 years of practice experience.
Among the survey’s key findings:
Most doctors have successfully worked with animals in medicine.
69% have worked with them in a hospital, medical center, or medical practice to assist patient therapy or treatment. They report interactions with animals improve patients’ physical condition (88%), mental health condition (97%), mood or outlook (98%), and relationships with staff (76%).
Doctors overwhelmingly believe there are health benefits to owning pets.
97% reported that they believe there were health benefits that resulted from owning a pet.
The majority of doctors have recommended a pet to a patient.
60% of doctors interviewed have recommended getting a pet to a patient. 43% recommended the pet to improve overall health and 17% made the recommendation for a specific condition.
Most doctors have seen their patients’ health improve as a result of pet ownership.
75% of physicians said they saw one or more of their patients overall health improve, and 87% said their patients’ mood or outlook improved.
Doctors are willing to prescribe pets.
74% of doctors said they would prescribe a pet to improve overall health if the medical evidence supported it; 8% said they would prescribe a pet for a specific condition.
The survey also revealed that while 69% of doctors at least occasionally discussed the health benefits of pets with patients, 56% identified “time constraints” as the biggest barrier to having these discussions.
“The science shows that pets can help with a wide range of health conditions – from heart health to depression to PTSD,” Feldman added. “HABRI hopes that this survey will help break down the barriers and get more doctors and their patients talking about the important, scientifically-validated health benefits of pets.”
The HABRI Foundation maintains the world’s largest online library of human-animal bond research and information; funds innovative research projects to scientifically document the health benefits of pets and other animals; informs the public about human-animal bond research; and advocates for public policies that support the beneficial role of pets in society.
Founded by The American Pet Products Association (APPA), Petco Animal Supplies Inc., and Zoetis, the Human Animal Bond Research Initiative (HABRI) is a non-profit foundation that serves as a rallying point for a growing assembly of companies, organizations and individuals with the common goal of demonstrating that our relationship with pets and animals makes the world a better place by significantly improving human health and quality of life. For more information about the HABRI Foundation, please visit www.habri.org.
More Press Releases
New Study to Investigate Impact of Pets on Recovery of the Gut Microbiome Following Antibiotic Regimen in Older Adults
The Human Animal Bond Research Institute (HABRI) announced today it has awarded a new research grant, titled “Sharing is caring: can pets protect their owners against antibiotic-associated disruption of the gut microbiome?”, to the University of Pennsylvania’s School of Veterinary Medicine (Penn Vet) to investigate whether pets are a source of microbiota that can help restore deficiencies in their owner’s gut microbiome. “A growing number of studies have documented the ability of animal contact to impact the human microbiome (collection of microbes in the intestines) in ways that may help prevent certain types of disease, such as cardiovascular disease and asthma,” said Dr. Laurel Redding, VMD, PhD, DACVPM, Assistant Professor of Epidemiology at Penn Vet, the project’s Principal Investigator. “In conducting this study, our goal is to shed light on the microbial exchanges that occur between pets and pet owners and assess whether pets can mitigate disruption of their owner’s gut microbiome following antibiotic therapy.” This groundbreaking project will follow pet owners over 60 years old who are taking antibiotics for dental implant placement. Antibiotics disrupt the native gut microbiome, which can result in a range of outcomes, from mild diarrhea to severe “C. diff” infection (infection with Clostridioides difficile), and the elderly are particularly at risk for some of these adverse outcomes. Recovery from this type of disruption is not well understood, and factors that promote this recovery are only beginning to be explored. Researchers hypothesize that the gut microbiomes of pet owners and their pets will resemble each other prior to the course of antibiotics, diverge during the disruption phase, then steadily converge during the recovery phase. In demonstrating that animal contact can yield beneficial effects on the restoration of the human gut microbiome, results of this study may reduce concerns about and even promote contact with household...
New Research to Study Impact of Therapy Dogs On Stress and Academic Performance in Children with Autism
The Human Animal Bond Research Institute (HABRI) announced today it has awarded a $33,717 grant to the Texas Tech University for a new study, Integration of AAI and Applied Behavior Analysis to Improve Academic Performance in Children with Intellectual and/or Developmental Disability (IDD). This study will examine the effect of an integrated animal-assisted intervention (AAI) in Applied Behavior Analysis (ABA) on children’s academic performance and physiological stress. “The goal of this study is to determine if interaction with a therapy dog during an ABA-based intervention results in improved academic response and a decrease in child stress levels,” said the study’s principal investigator, Alexandra Protopopova, PhD, Texas Tech University. “The results of this study may provide support for incorporating animals into ABA-based therapy, a bridging of two beneficial therapies for individuals with ASD/IDD that could result in the emergence of advancements in behavioral science.” The one-year, single-subject designed study will examine 6 children between the ages of 4 and 13 with ASD/IDD. The unique, within-subject design will use the 6 participants to address each aim of the study. Dr. Protopopova, Assistant Professor of Animal and Food Sciences and co-investigator Breanna N. Harris, PhD, Research Assistant Professor of the Department of Biological Sciences, will expose each child to 5 conditions, 5 times each in a random sequence and will measure on-task behavior and collect saliva for measurement of cortisol levels. The investigators will then compare each condition on an individual basis. It is expected that when provided with a therapy dog during the ABA-based intervention, the children will have significantly lower stress and that the dogs will be a more potent and durable reward for children, resulting in educational improvements. “Scientific research, including results of previous HABRI-funded studies, has shown that therapy dogs can have a positive...
Coalition Hails Passage of Legislation as Key Milestone in Protecting Victims of Domestic Violence and their Pets
(December 21, 2018) – A group of nonprofit and for-profit organizations lauded the passage of the Agriculture Improvement Act of 2018 (the Farm Bill) after advocating for legislation to better protect domestic violence survivors by establishing the critical importance of protecting their pets, too. With the inclusion of key elements of the Pet and Women Safety (PAWS) Act (H.R. 909, S.322) in the Farm Bill, Congress took an essential step in removing a roadblock to the safety of these survivors with pets. “Thanks to bipartisan passage of the PAWS Act by Congress, more domestic violence shelters will allow survivors of abuse to heal with the love and support of their beloved pets,” said Nina Leigh Krueger, President of Purina. “This is an important milestone in the coalition’s collective efforts to create safer communities for pets and pet owners, and Purina will remain steadfast in our commitment to keeping pets and people together, particularly during times of crisis.” This provision of the Farm Bill establishes grants for domestic violence shelters to carry out programs to provide emergency and transitional shelter and housing assistance or short-term shelter and housing assistance for domestic violence victims with pets, service animals, emotional support animals, or horses. Grants awarded may also be used for programs that provide support services designed to enable someone fleeing domestic violence to locate and secure safe housing with their pet, safe accommodations for their pet, or related services such as transportation and other assistance. The PAWS Act Coalition would like to thank the original co-sponsors of the Pet and Women Safety Act for their leadership and commitment to its passage, especially the lead sponsors Congresswoman Katherine Clark (D-MA-5), Senator Gary Peters (D-MI) and Senator Dean Heller (R-NV). The Coalition is also particularly grateful for Senator Pat Roberts (R-KS) for spearheading the effort to pass the bill by including...