One of the reasons for these therapeutic effects is that pets fulfill the basic human need for touch. Even hardened criminals in prison show long-term changes in their behavior after interacting with pets, many of them experiencing mutual affection for the first time. Stroking, hugging, or otherwise touching a loving animal can rapidly calm and soothe you when you’re stressed or anxious. The companionship of a pet can also ease loneliness, and most dogs are a great stimulus for healthy exercise, which can substantially boost your mood and ease depression.
Providing companionship. Companionship can help prevent illness and even add years to your life, while isolation and loneliness can trigger symptoms of depression. Caring for an animal can help make you feel needed and wanted, and take the focus away from your problems, especially if you live alone. Most dog and cat owners talk to their pets, some even use them to work through their troubles. And nothing beats loneliness like coming home to a wagging tail or purring cat.
The benefits of pets
If you’re looking for something smaller or with less energy, then maybe a cat or a rabbit would be right for you and your family. Here are some things to ask yourself when looking for the perfect pet:
If you don’t have the time, money, or ability to own a pet full-time, there are still ways you can experience the health benefits of being around animals. You can ask to walk a neighbor’s dog, for example, or volunteer at an animal shelter. Most animal shelters or rescue groups welcome volunteers to help care for homeless pets or assist at adoption events. You’ll not only be helping yourself, but also helping to socialize and exercise the animals, making them more adoptable.
Some children with autism or other learning difficulties are better able to interact with pets than people. Autistic children often rely on nonverbal cues to communicate, just as animals do. And learning to first connect with a pet may even help an autistic child in their interactions with people.
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HABRI’s 2016 survey of pet owners found even more evidence that veterinarians are incredibly important to the human-animal bond. Specifically, results showed that veterinarians are trusted resources for scientific information on the human health benefits of pets and that veterinarians have an opportunity to further strengthen their relationships with pet owners by sharing information on this topic. Virtually all pet owners (97%) have a favorable opinion of their veterinarian and 61% of pet owners (74% of millennials) would be more likely to visit their veterinarian if they discussed the health benefits of the human-animal bond with them.
HABRI has assembled scientific evidence that demonstrates how 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. Veterinarians are the professionals who keep pets healthy, so that in turn, they can positively impact our health and well-being.
The Pet Effect Campaign, led by HABRI-founder Zoetis, is a multi-pronged campaign aimed to introduce pet owners to the health benefits of the human-animal bond, and to understand how important their veterinarians are for happy, healthy pets!
The Pet Effect campaign will share the message and the science that shows how veterinary medicine is an essential component of health for pets and people. HABRI is proud to partner with Zoetis to bring you the Pet Effect.
Please take a moment to watch the videos, download the materials and share this information widely with your colleagues, friends and family. Together, we can all experience the Pet Effect!
Zoetis partnered with HABRI to bring veterinarians, pet owners and the general public The Pet Effect, a multi-faceted, educational campaign to promote a growing body of scientific research that shows how important the human-animal bond is for human health. The purpose of the Pet Effect is to raise awareness and encourage conversation about why pets make us healthier and happier, and how veterinarians — the professionals who help keep pets healthy – are also key contributors to human health and public health. While much of the campaign is light-hearted and humorous, with HABRI’s help, we can point to research that shows The Pet Effect is real!