The human-animal bond topic is emerging more and more frequently in human health as pets are taking growing space in our lives. The benefit of the connection starts to be recognised by health care professionals, especially in case of children suffering from health issues. Recent studies also show the positive effects of a patient-animal connection on depressive disorders, cardiac health or post-traumatic stress.
Overall, the results of the survey highlight a strong emotional bond between owners and pets, being even stronger and more intimate among owners with health issues. A majority of respondents are conscious of the human-animal bond and aware of the related mutual benefits. Veterinarians prove to be the contact of choice to provide information on the topic.
Main conclusions from the survey are the following:
- 96 per cent of dog owners and 91 per cent of cat owners declare that owning pets has a positive impact on their daily life, 66 per cent consider them as family members.
- For 55 per cent of respondents, who mention that their pet improves their state of health, the pet brings more relaxation to into their life and for 43 per cent it helps increasing physical exercise.
- The decrease of medicine (relaxant, depressant, sedative) is part of the concrete improvement linked to the pet ownership (~7 per cent of the sample).
- Owners with a condition spend more time and are more emotionally engaged with their pet – unconditional love and trust is what 80 per cent of them strongly agree on while talking about their affective state with their pet.
- Respondents having children suffering from severe or chronic disease are most aware of the human-animal bond than the two other groups.
- Overall, 70 per cent of respondents are favorable about vet talking about the topic.
The survey was assigned by Boehringer Ingelheim to the global Research Institute Ipsos in September 2017, targeting three groups: healthy owners, owners with health issues and owners with kids suffering from health issues. The first part of the study consisted in an in-depth qualitative survey among pet owners to understand their day to day relation and the special bonds between them. The second part targeted 3,000 owners (300 cat owners and 300 dog owners in each country) in order to quantify the relationship and the related benefits for each of them.
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