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A pet every day to keep the doctor away?

If you’ve ever had a stressful day and felt it melt away when your dog greeted you at the door or your cat rubbed against you, you’re already familiar with the positive effects of animals. Turns out, it’s not just pet owners like you who believe in the health benefits of having a pet.

The Pet Effect 

The phenomenon has been dubbed “The Pet Effect” by a group of scientists, researchers, veterinarians and pet people studying the impact pets have on our lives. Using scientific research, they are demonstrating how pets are good for us not only mentally, but also physically. There are a number of ways pets improve the health and well-being of our communities.

Ontario SPCA, feral cat, feral cats
Ontario SPCA

Doctors report paws-itive results 

dog, smiling dog, doctor, doctors, doctor recommended
photo credit: Jennie Robinson Faber Smiling summer dog via photopin (license)

A survey of doctors was conducted in 2014 to investigate this. The survey was conducted by the Human-Animal Bond Research Institute (HABRI), in partnership with Cohen Research Group. The study explored doctors’ knowledge and attitudes towards the human health benefits of pets. A staggering 97 per cent of doctors surveyed reported they believed there were health benefits from owning a pet.

The study found most doctors (69 per cent) had successfully worked with animals in a hospital, medical centre or medical practice to assist patient therapy or treatment. Perhaps not surprising to pet owners, the study found 97 per cent of physicians surveyed saw an improvement in their patients’ mental health. Another 98 per cent reported improved mood or outlook. Pets also helped patients’ physical conditions, with 88 per cent of doctors reporting improvements.

A purr-fect prescription 

Imagine being prescribed a pet to help improve a health condition? Three quarters of the doctors interviewed said they would prescribe a pet to improve overall health if the medical evidence supported it. The same number had already witnessed health improvements in their patients as a result of pet ownership. As a result, many doctors are already recommending pet ownership. Sixty per cent of the doctors surveyed recommended their patients get a pet.

Check out the Pet Effect website for more great information!

May 15, 2017
by Emily Cook