Spread the Health

A new study commissioned by The Human Animal Bond Research Initiative Foundation indicates that pet ownership leads to healthier humans.



Most pet owners know that pets make us feel great; but they might not know that pet ownership has a demonstrated, positive impact on human health and also saves billions of dollars in health care costs.

A study recently commissioned by The Human Animal Bond Research Initiative Foundation (HABRI) provides some eye-opening statistics relating to pet ownership in the United States:

• Pet ownership saves $11.7 billion in overall health care costs.

• Pet owners visit the doctor 0.6 times less than the average non-pet owner.

• Dog owners who walk their dog five or more times a week save $418 million in health care costs due to a lower incidence of obesity.

The startling numbers in this report only confirm the key health benefits we are already aware of that are associated with owning a pet, including findings that demonstrate a positive impact on infection control, cardiovascular disease, hypertension, cholesterol, allergies, stress, blood pressure and mental health. HABRI’s study clearly states that this early analysis is conservative and that the deeper researchers look, the more likely they are to uncover additional health benefits stemming from pet ownership.

At the same time, more and more people are bringing their pets with them everywhere they go, and businesses increasingly recognize the positive impact of pets on human well-being. A recent study produced by Virginia Commonwealth University suggests a correlation between bringing your dog to work and lower levels of cortisol, a hormone known to cause stress. Outside of the workplace, many airlines, restaurants and stores have all become more pet-friendly in recent years.

“Bringing pets to public places has long been commonplace abroad, particularly in Europe, and we’re starting to see dogs in the United States being more widely accepted in places like outdoor dining areas and shopping centers,” says Judy Breton, CMG, CKO, director of grooming and special services at the World Pet Association (WPA). “I think this is a benefit for pet owners in general, but it does mean that people will have to train their pets better, so they can behave appropriately in public and around others.” 

Information about the benefits of pet ownership on human health, and associated lifestyle trends toward incorporating animals more and more into daily life, present an incredible opportunity for pet retailers to help customers understand how products carried in the shop can help them live the lifestyle the want to lead. It also opens an avenue for retailers to offer training classes or partner with a local trainer to supplement their services and demonstrate their understanding of customers’ needs and wants.

For independent pet retailers especially, everything begins and ends with your customers. The more you’re engaged in industry trends, contribute to solutions and supply thought leadership and education, the better you position yourself as a partner whom your customers will continue to trust and seek out. Being mindful about how the culture is changing around pets means you’ll be able to detect trends as they develop and stay ahead of the curve. And don’t forget to make plans to attend SuperZoo this August, where you’ll find even more products, education and inspiration for your business. 

Doug Poindexter is president of the World Pet Association (WPA), organizer of SuperZoo, which will take place Aug. 2-4 at the Mandalay Bay Convention Center in Las Vegas. 


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