If you're like most pet owners, your furry friend isn't just a pet - they're a family member. And according to a new study, the bond between pets and their owners is stronger than ever.
The Human Animal Bond Research Institute (HABRI) and Zoetis unveiled a survey of 16,000 pet owners and 1,200 veterinarians across four continents. The results indicated that humans have an incredibly strong human-animal bond with their pets which has a tangible influence on health outcomes and drives better veterinary care in all countries surveyed.
At the 2022 Veterinary Meeting and Expo in Orlando, Florida, investigators unveiled their groundbreaking international survey results to a captivated audience of North American Veterinary Community members. The key findings were as follows:
- Almost all participants (95%) regard their furry companions as a beloved members of the family
- 90% report a strong, intimate bond with their furry companion.
- 86% of pet owners would be willing to pay any cost if their beloved animal required extensive veterinary care
- A staggering 87% of people have experienced the profound mental and physical health benefits that come with forming a bond with an animal
- The vast majority of pet owners (98%) reported that their furry friends had a positive impact on their well-being, including improved moods and reduced loneliness or stress.
The Human-Animal Bond
The human-animal bond is one of the strongest emotional connections that humans can have with another living being. But why is the bond between pets and their owners so strong? There are a number of reasons, say experts.
Human Health Benefits
For one thing, pets provide us with unconditional love and companionship - something that's increasingly hard to find in today's world. They also help us relieve stress and anxiety and can even boost our morale and mental health.
Psychologists at Miami and Saint Louis Universities performed research to evaluate the advantages of being a pet owner (McConnell, Brown, Shoda, Stayton, and Martin 2011). Their three studies found that owning a pet can have positive effects on both physical health and emotional well-being. In their first study, results revealed that those who owned pets had greater overall well-being than non-pet owners.
For instance, research confirms that pet owners are strongly correlated with higher self-esteem levels, improved physical fitness, decreased stress, and less fear than non-pet owners. To further prove the merits of having a furry companion, two additional studies were conducted wherein samples from both lab settings, as well as outside environments reported improved human health associated with owning a pet.
Animal Welfare Benefits
Not only does owning a pet benefit our own health, but it also offers numerous advantages for animal welfare. Having a loving home that's devoted to ensuring their well-being boosts the life of animals and gives them an improved quality of life.
In addition, pet owners are more likely to be knowledgeable about animal care and responsibility for their pet's well-being. This means that pets receive the necessary medical attention, healthy meals, toys, and activities they need to remain content.
Research from the University of Georgia, which examined medical records for over 70,000 animal patients, found that neutered males lived 13.8% longer and spayed females 26.3%. On average, intact dogs had an age of death of 7.9 years versus a much higher 9.4 years for altered pets - indicating that undergoing these procedures can significantly extend the life expectancy of your companion animals. In addition, spayed and neutered animals are less likely to contract diseases, roam away from home, and reproduce, thus, increasing their overall pet's health. Both dog and cat owners who participated in the survey reported that their pets were spayed or neutered and had received necessary vaccinations.
Another benefit that pets receive from highly-bonded pet owners is increased safety. For instance, pet owners are more likely to report animal cruelty or neglect and can even intervene in potentially dangerous situations to protect their companion animals.
Furthermore, when pet owners globally create a bond with their pets, they are more likely to take an active role in their pet's life, such as by providing them with adequate mental stimulation and socialization. This means that your companion animals will be exposed to a variety of environments, people, and activities, ensuring they remain healthy, content, and secure.
The human-animal bond is strong and powerful, offering both human and pet health benefits. From providing us with unconditional love and companionship to improving our emotional and physical health, pets are truly our best friends!
Veterinary Treatment and Preventive Care
We have already established that pets positively impact our physical and emotional well-being, but owning a pet also provides us with one more important benefit: access to veterinary care.
What is Veterinary Medicine?
Veterinary medicine is a branch of science that focuses on the medical treatment and prevention of disease in animals, which includes both companion animals and livestock. Veterinary physicians, called veterinarians, are responsible for diagnosing, treating, and preventing diseases in pets through various techniques such as vaccinations, surgery, medication administration, and nutrition counseling.
When you own a pet, it is your duty to ensure that they receive the necessary preventive treatments and vet visits. Aside from the fact that regular vet visits are essential for catching any existing or upcoming health issues, it is important to remember that preventive care can save you money in the long run. Here are some of the most important preventive care services you should consider:
Annual vet visits and physical exams
These are a must-have for all pets and will help detect abnormalities in your pet's health. Vet visits are not just to treat animal illness but rather to ensure your pet is in its best animal health.
These are essential for protecting your pet against preventable diseases and illnesses and keeping them safe from potentially contagious environments. All animals need to be vaccinated against preventable diseases such as rabies, Lyme disease, and feline leukemia. Vaccinations can also help protect other animals and people in your surroundings.
Flea and tick prevention medications are essential for protecting your pet against parasites and pests. Not only can these affect your pet's well-being, but they can also help prevent infestations in your home.
Routine dental care
Your pet's oral hygiene is just as important as yours! Brushing their teeth several times a week, scheduling an annual professional cleaning with your vet, and providing dental-specific treats can help keep your pet's teeth healthy and clean.
Finally, it is important that owners provide their pets with a balanced, nutritious diet. Your vet can help you to determine the best nutrition for your pet's individual needs and can even recommend specific foods that address health concerns such as obesity or allergies.
Your pet's diet is essential for their overall well-being, and vitamins can help supplement a nutritionally-balanced diet. In addition, vitamins can help keep your pet's coat healthy and glossy, provide them with energy, improve their immune system and help maintain a healthy weight.
On social media, virtually all pet owners have jumped into the trend of meal-prepping for their pets. Meal planning is a great way to ensure that your companion animal has all the necessary nutrients while saving you time and money. By planning ahead, you can buy bulk food or even make pet recipes at home. Some pet owners even embrace the raw diet for their furry family members.
Regular grooming is not only important for a pet's appearance, but it can also be beneficial to their health. Depending on the breed, some pets need more frequent brushing and bathing than others. In addition, regularly trimmed nails can help prevent overgrown, painful claws, and regular coat maintenance can help reduce shedding.
Both preventive care and veterinary medicine are vital aspects of pet ownership. By providing preventive care, such as vaccinations and routine vet visits, you can help ensure your pet is healthy and well-cared for. In addition to providing a safe and loving environment for our beloved pets, it's important to take an active role in their health care by understanding the importance of veterinary medicine. With the right care, you can develop a strong bond with your pet while ensuring they enjoy a lifetime of health and happiness.
Our furry friends bring us joy, comfort, and companionship - something that's increasingly rare in today's world. And now that we know just how strong the bond between pets and their owners is, we can even more, appreciate our special relationships with our four-legged family members.
Ultimately, these groundbreaking findings from the survey provide further evidence that pet ownership impacts human well-being profoundly and positively. Whether it's regular vet care, preventive measures like vaccinations or flea and tick prevention medications, or simply ensuring your pet is well-fed and groomed, taking care of your companion animal can have a major impact on you and your pet's life.