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/
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.
More Press Releases
New Research to Study Effects of Service Dogs on Post 9-11 War Veterans with PTSD
The Human Animal Bond Research Initiative (HABRI) Foundation today announced it has awarded a $42,000 grant to Purdue University to lead a first-of-its-kind, controlled scientific study to measure the effects of service dogs on post 9-11 war veterans with Post Traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD) and/or Traumatic Brain Injury (TBI). Participants in the K9s For Warriors program, a nonprofit organization pairing war veterans with service dogs, will take part in the study. “While numerous studies have confirmed that companion animals help reduce stress, anxiety, and depression, the U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs has cited a lack of specific scientific evidence on the effectiveness of service animals for war veterans suffering from PTSD and TBI,” said HABRI Executive Director Steven Feldman. “We are committed to addressing this gap in peer-reviewed science so that every veteran who needs a service animal can get one.” PTSD is a prevalent and debilitating disorder that, according to the U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs, affects nearly 20 percent of post 9-11 war veterans. Typically triggered by intense events and situations, symptoms of PTSD include flashbacks, nightmares, severe anxiety, and uncontrollable thoughts. To explore the effect of service dogs on war veterans suffering from PTSD and TBI, the Purdue-led study will monitor the health and wellness of the K9s For Warriors participants including medical, physiological, and self-perception indicators. It is hypothesized that the veterans who have service dogs will demonstrate better health and wellness compared to those receiving other treatment services while on the waitlist for a service dog. “While there are existing PTSD treatments available for veterans, a number of them have limited effectiveness and high drop-out rates,” said Marguerite O’Haire, PhD, Purdue University. “This controlled research study will document the impact of service dogs on veterans, which may provide an effective addition...
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...
Will Reading to Rabbits Improve Student Skills?
The Human Animal Bond Research Initiative (HABRI) today announced it has awarded a $13,000 grant to the Association for Human-Animal Bond Studies for a new study, Listening EARS: How Does Reading to Rabbits Affect Reading Skills of Third Grade Students?, to uncover how reading aloud to a non-threatening presence, like a classroom rabbit, helps improve students’ reading skills. “The human-animal bond can lessen the stress young children can feel when taking on challenging tasks in the classroom, like reading aloud,” said Dr. Annie Petersen, Ed.D., Principal Investigator in the Listening EARS study. “This study will provide us with a valuable tool to understand and act on the benefits of small animals to student learning and development.” By utilizing small animals already present in classrooms (e.g. rabbits and guinea pigs), it is predicted that classroom interactions with an animal will improve 3rd grade students’ oral fluency and reading comprehension, two essential measures of academic success. “HABRI is committed to studying the impact of companion animals on child health and development,” said Steve Feldman, Executive Director of HABRI. “This new research will contribute to the growing body of scientific evidence that demonstrates the benefits of pets in the classroom.”