New Survey: 1 in 5 Pet Owners have had a Pet Recommended by a Doctor or Therapist | HABRI

New Survey: 1 in 5 Pet Owners have had a Pet Recommended by a Doctor or Therapist

Human Animal Bond Research Institute (HABRI) Survey Shows the Importance of Pets to Human Health

Washington, D.C. (March 21, 2022) — The Human Animal Bond Research Institute (HABRI) announced today key findings from its benchmark survey of U.S. pet owners. The survey found that growing importance and knowledge of the human-animal bond drive actions to improve both human and animal wellbeing.

“These new results capture how pets are front-and-center in our lives, a trend accelerated by the pandemic,” said Steven Feldman, president of HABRI. “Pets are so important, especially to our mental health, that more than 1-in-5 pet owners said a doctor or therapist had recommended pet ownership.”

HABRI first fielded its benchmark survey in 2016, providing a window into how attitudes, knowledge and behaviors have changed over the last five years. Important increases were noted in those reporting health benefits related to pet ownership and time spent with pets.

76% of pet owners report that their personal health has improved as a result of owning a pet, up from 71% in 2016 (+5%)

87% of pet owners say that they have experienced mental health improvements from pet ownership, up from 74% in 2016 (+13%)

83% of pet owners say they spend most of or a big part or most of the day with their pets, up from 78% in 2016 (+5%)

Connected to these increases, more people are aware of and talking about the human-animal bond with each other and with their medical professionals.

  • 97% of pet owners are aware of at least one scientifically-documented health benefit of the human-animal bond
  • 64% of pet owners have had a conversation with someone in the past year about the health benefits of pet ownership
  • 22%, more than 1-in-5, pet owners have had a pet recommended for their health by a doctor or therapist
  • 63% of pet owners have discussed the health benefits of the human-animal bond with their veterinarian (75% of Gen Z/Millennials), up from 56% in 2016 (+7%)

Results strongly indicate that the more pet owners learn about scientific research on the benefits of the human-animal bond, the more likely they are to take better care of their pets. Increased knowledge even has the potential to boost pet ownership.

  • 91% of pet owners say they would be more likely to take better care of their pet, up from 89% in 2016 (+2%)
  • 91% of pet owners say they would be more likely to maintain their pet’s health, including regular check-ups with their veterinarian, up from 89% in 2016 (+2%)
  • 77% of pet owners say they would spend more money on their pet overall, up from 69% in 2016 (+8%)
  • 57% of pet owners say they would be more likely to get an additional pet, up from 49% in 2016 (+8%)

Pet owners are also willing to make significant changes to their own lifestyle to enhance the care and attention they provide to their pets. Sixty-one percent of pet owners say they would change housing so they could have a pet, and 45% would change jobs so that they could have increased time with their pet at home. There is also an overwhelming number of pet owners who support a stronger role for pets in society.

  • 92% of pet owners agree that hospitals, schools, etc. should have therapy animal programs
  • 92% of pet owners agree that the government should provide service animals to qualifying veterans suffering from PTSD
  • 90% of pet owners agree that emergency and temporary housing should accommodate pets
  • 84% of pet owners agree that there should be fewer restrictions on pets in rental housing

This nationally-representative survey of 3,596 U.S. adults was commissioned by the Human-Animal Bond Research Institute (HABRI) and developed in partnership with LRW/Material to gain a deeper understanding of pet owners’ awareness, attitudes and behavior related to the human-animal bond and human-animal bond scientific research. Survey participants included adults 18+ years old who own at least one pet. All significance tests were done at a confidence level of 95% (p ≤ 0.05).

For more information, please visit https://habri.org/pet-owners-survey/

About HABRI

The Human Animal Bond Research Institute (HABRI) 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 companion animals; and informs the public about human-animal bond research and the beneficial role of companion animals in society. For more information about HABRI, visit www.habri.org.

Contact

Hayley Maynard

Hayley@inspireprgroup.com

614.701.8205

###

Press Releases
Embrace Pet Insurance Supports Human-Animal Bond Research

The Human Animal Bond Research Institute (HABRI) announced today that Embrace Pet Insurance, one of the highest-rated U.S. pet insurance companies, has become an official supporter of HABRI and its research on the human health benefits of companion animals. “When pet owners become part of the Embrace family, we strive to strengthen the human-animal bond, especially when pet parents need it most,” said Ambrish Jaiswal, CEO of Embrace Pet Insurance. “By supporting HABRI, Embrace Pet Insurance is proudly helping to advance human-animal bond research that demonstrates the positive role that healthy pets play in our lives.” “We know from research that pets are considered part of the family, and that pet owners want what’s best for their four-legged family members,” said Steven Feldman, Executive Director of HABRI. “Embrace helps to provide and sustain healthy pets, so that, as family, they are protected against unexpected accidents and illnesses.” Scientific evidence increasingly shows that pets improve heart health; alleviate depression; increase well-being; support child health and development; and contribute to healthy aging. In addition, companion animals can assist in the treatment of a broad range of conditions from post-traumatic stress to Alzheimer’s disease to autism spectrum disorder. The benefits of the human-animal bond impact more than just human health. Findings from a recent HABRI survey of 2,000 pet owners demonstrate that knowledge of the scientific research on the human-animal bond motivates pet owners to take better care of their pets. From providing pets with higher quality nutrition to purchasing pet health insurance, spreading awareness of the health benefits of pet ownership improves pet health and welfare. “Embrace believes in giving back to the pet care community, and supporting HABRI research is perfectly aligned with our company values. We look forward to playing a supportive role for HABRI and helping discover more ways in...

Press Releases
Newly Published Study Shows Young Children with Pet Dogs Benefit from Greater Physical Activity and Reduced Screen Time

The Human Animal Bond Research Institute (HABRI) has hailed the results of a HABRI-funded study led by researchers at the Telethon Kids Institute and The University of Western Australia (UWA) that found dog ownership to be positively associated with physical activity in preschool-aged children. The study was just published in the journal Preventive Medicine Reports. “Our research found that engaging with the family dog through playing and going on family walks was positively associated with young children’s physical activity, sleep, and negatively associated with screen time,” said Telethon Kids and UWA Associate Professor Hayley Christian, who was Principal Investigator on the study. “With many young children not meeting the recommended levels of physical activity, screen time and sleep, we hope these results will help parents, children and pets be more active and healthy.” “With these new research findings, we have solid evidence that pet dogs can benefit physical health in young children,” said Steven Feldman, President of HABRI. “HABRI looks forward to sharing these results and encouraging families to spend more quality time playing with and walking their dogs.” The research team, led by Dr. Christian, analyzed data from 1,336 children aged 2-5 years in the ‘Play Spaces and Environments for Children’s Physical Activity’ (PLAYCE) study, an observational study investigating the influence of the childcare environment on young children’s physical activity. Parent-report surveys collected information about socio-demographic characteristics, family dog ownership, physical activity, outdoor play, family dog walking and play, screen time and sleep. Preschoolers wore ActiGraph accelerometers to measure physical activity. Findings indicate that dog-owning preschoolers did eight more sessions per week of unstructured physical activity than those from non-dog households. Dog-owning preschoolers who played with their dog three or more times per week...

Press Releases
New Research to Study Effects of Dogs on Children’s Stress

The Human Animal Bond Research Initiative (HABRI) announced today it has awarded a $26,000 grant to Yale University for a new study, Interactions with Animals to Reduce Children’s Stress. The study will examine the effects of interactions with dogs on children dealing with stress and anxiety. “I am keenly interested in improving the quality of life among those who are experiencing stress, strains, and challenges of everyday functioning,” said the study’s primary researcher, Dr. Alan Kazdin, professor of Psychology and Child Psychiatry at Yale University, Ph.D, ABPP. “I am hoping to identify ways in which animal-child interaction can reduce stress and, furthermore, wish to understand precisely how that works, how the interaction can be optimized, and how it might translate to what’s being done in animal-assisted interventions and also in everyday life.” The two-year laboratory-based experiment on behalf of Yale University’s Department of Psychology will examine 73 children between the ages of 8 and 13 and randomly assign them support from a dog, support from an object, or no support. Researchers will then employ a series of tests and compare the stress levels in each group. “HABRI is committed to improving child health and development through the power of the human-animal bond,” said HABRI Executive Director Steve Feldman. “This study has the potential to provide necessary evidence on the specific benefits of human-animal interaction to children’s mental health.”

HABRI