Measuring How Pets Impact Loneliness


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We all feel lonely from time to time, but a new study reveals the power of animal companionship in staving off the negative health impacts of loneliness.

According to Human Animal Bond Research Institute (HABRI) and Mars Petcare, which commissioned the study, three out of five Americans report feeling lonely. The report also says that loneliness can be just as bad for you as smoking 15 cigarettes a day.

“There is increasing evidence that pets can play an important role in helping people feel less lonely and more socially connected,” said Steven Feldman, executive director of HABRI in a statement. “Together with the leadership of Mars Petcare and a group of other experts and stakeholders, HABRI will work to address the crisis of loneliness in our society with the power of the human-animal bond.”

Some of the other key findings of the study include:

• 80% of pet owners said that their pet reduces their feelings of loneliness.

• 85% of all respondents (both pet owners and non-pet owners believe that interacting with a companion animal can reduce loneliness.

• 75% of respondents said that interacting with animals can help address social isolation.

• Pet owners who reported the closest bonds with their animal were found to have the highest positive impact on their feelings of loneliness and social isolation.

The report also lines out a three-part approach to utilize human-animal interactions (HAI) to combat loneliness, which includes continued high-quality research; removing barriers to pet ownership and HAI for vulnerable populations, like elderly adults; and ensuring best practices in animal-assisted interventions.

 

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