New HABRI Survey of Doctors Confirms What Research is Showing About the Health Benefits of Pets

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Results Show 75% of Doctors said Patients’ Health Improved as the Result of Getting a Pet

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The science shows that pets can help with a wide range of health conditions- from heart health to depression to PTSD.

The Human Animal Bond Research Initiative (HABRI) Foundation, today released the results of a first-of-its-kind survey detailing the views of family physician on the benefits of pets to human health.

“Doctors and their patients really understand the human health benefits of pets, and they are putting that understanding into practice,” said HABRI Executive Director Steven Feldman. “The Human Animal Bond Research Initiative funds research on the evidence-based health benefits on human-animal interaction, and this survey demonstrates that we are on the right track.”

HABRI partnered with Cohen Research Group to conduct an online panel survey of 1,000 family doctors and general practitioners. This is the largest survey of its kind to explore doctors’ knowledge, attitudes and behavior regarding the human health benefits of pets. The 28-question survey was conducted in late August 2014 and had a margin of error of plus or minus 3.1%. The physicians in the survey had a median of 18 years of practice experience.

Among the survey’s key findings:

  •     Most doctors have successfully worked with animals in medicine.

69% have worked with them in a hospital, medical center, or medical practice to assist patient therapy or treatment. They report interactions with animals improve patients’ physical condition (88%), mental health condition (97%), mood our outlook (98%), and relationships with staff (76%).

  •     Doctors overwhelmingly believe there are health benefits to owning pets.

97% reported that they believe there were health benefits that resulted from owning a pet.

  •     The majority of doctors have recommended a pet to a patient.

60% of doctors interviewed have recommended getting a pet to a patient. 43% recommended the pet to improve overall health and 17% made the recommendation for a specific condition.

  •     Most doctors have seen their patients’ health improve as a result of pet ownership.

75% of physicians said they saw one or more of their patients overall health improve, and 87% said their patients’ mood or outlook improved.

  •     Doctors are willing to prescribe pets.

74% of doctors said they would prescribe a pet to improve overall health if the medical evidence supported it; 8% said they would prescribe a pet for a specific condition.

The survey also revealed that while 69% of doctors at least occasionally discussed the health benefits of pets with patients, 56% identified “time constraints” as the biggest barrier to having these discussions.

“The science shows that pets can help with a wide range of health conditions – from heart health to depression to PTSD,” Feldman added. “HABRI hopes that this survey will help break down the barriers and get more doctors and their patients talking about the important, scientifically-validated health benefits of pets.”

The HABRI Foundation 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 pets and other animals; informs the public about human-animal bond research; and advocates for public policies that support the beneficial role of pets in society.

Founded by The American Pet Products Association (APPA), Petco Animal Supplies Inc., and Zoetis, the Human Animal Bond Research Initiative (HABRI) is a non-profit foundation that serves as a rallying point for a growing assembly of companies, organizations and individuals with the common goal of demonstrating that our relationship with pets and animals makes the world a better place by significantly improving human health and quality of life. For more information about the HABRI Foundation, please visit http://www.habri.org.

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For expert interview opportunities and additional survey details, please contact Tierra Bonaldi or Brooke Gersich at 775-322-4022 or Brooke(at)theimpetusagency(dot)com Tierra(at)theimpetusagency(dot)com.

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Brooke Gersich
American Pet Products Association
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