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Pets and Human Health in Germany and Australia: National Longitudinal Results

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Abstract

The German and Australian longitudinal surveys analysed here are the first national representative surveys to show that (1) people who continuously own a pet are the healthiest group and (2) people who cease to have a pet or never had one are less healthy. Most previous studies which have claimed that pets confer health benefits were cross-sectional. So they were open to the objection that owners may have been healthier in the first place, rather than becoming healthier due to owning a pet. In both countries the data show that pet owners make about 15% fewer annual doctor visits than non-owners. The relationship remains statistically significant after controlling for gender, age, marital status, income and other variables associated with health. The German data come from the German Socio-Economic Panel in which respondents have been interviewed every year since 1984 (N =9723). Australian data come from the Australian National Social Science Survey 2001 (N =1246).

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... In a one-year longitudinal study, older adults who owned a pet maintained participation in more daily activities compared to the non-pet owners 18 . Large epidemiological studies have also revealed that pet owners report fewer physician visits compared to statistically matched non-pet owners 19,20 ; see also 21,22 . In experimental studies, hypertensive stockbrokers who were randomly assigned to a pet ownership condition showed, 6 months later, smaller increases in blood pressure during a stressful task compared to non-pet participants 23 . ...
... A growing number of studies are finding that pet owners are not equivalent to non-pet owners in terms of sociodemographic characteristics, with pet owners often from advantaged and majority backgrounds compared to non-pet owners 25,32 . This can potentially lead to an inflation of the positive association, found in some studies, between pet ownership and human wellness 19,33 . In fact, studies that account for sociodemographic factors (e.g., SES, ethnicity, education) have found that such controls attenuate and even erase any positive association between pet ownership and human wellness [33][34][35][36] . ...
... Age. Main effects of age emerged on all of the dependent variables (see Table 3), globally showing higher well-being among seniors (65 +), followed by adults , and then by young adults (18)(19)(20)(21)(22)(23)(24) 48 . One interaction emerged on the COVID-related impacts variable, revealing that adult pet owners reported higher COVID-related impacts compared to adult non-pet owners (F(1, 2417) = 10.35, ...
Article
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The question of pet ownership contributing to human well-being has received mixed empirical evidence. This contrasts with the lay intuition that pet ownership contributes positively to wellness. In a large representative sample, we investigate the differences that may exist between pet vs. non-pet owners in terms of their well-being during the COVID-19 pandemic, and examine among different sociodemographic strata, for whom pet ownership can be more vs. less beneficial. A cross-sectional questionnaire survey was conducted among Canadian adults (1220 pet owners, 1204 non-pet owners). Pet owners reported lower well-being than non-pet owners on a majority of well-being indicators; this general pet ownership effect held when accounting for pet species (dogs, cats, other species) and number of pets owned. Compared to owners of other pets, dog owners reported higher well-being. When examining the effect of pet ownership within different socioeconomic strata, being a pet owner was associated with lower well-being among: women; people who have 2 + children living at home; people who are unemployed. Our results offer a counterpoint to popular beliefs emphasising the benefits of pets to human wellness during the COVID-19 pandemic and confirm the importance of accounting for sociodemographic factors to further understand the experience of pet ownership.
... The human-animal relationship is in fact the ideal topic to illustrate the added value the One Health concept has to offer. Several studies highlight the positive effects of animals on the health and well-being of people of all ages and many of them are long-term effects [21], particularly the reduction in stress, blood pressure [22], and depression [23]. Sedentary individuals can be encouraged to practice exercises, with the interaction with animals promoting lifestyle changes [24,25]. ...
... Sedentary individuals can be encouraged to practice exercises, with the interaction with animals promoting lifestyle changes [24,25]. In addition, adherence to a physical activity program is a challenge, especially for patients with multiple chronic diseases and the animal might be a motivating factor to adhere to the program [22,26]. ...
... Living with pets influences personality variables, the development of empathy [27,28] and social and cognitive skills [29], and strengthens the immune system in children [22]. Other health benefits include those related to animal-assisted interventions. ...
Article
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The One Health concept represents the inseparability of human, animal, and environmental health through a unified view of health care. This article addressed the topic of public health policies from the One Health perspective, demonstrating its inclusion in various health agendas such as emerging and reemerging infectious diseases, basic sanitation, mental health, chronic non-communicable diseases, interpersonal violence, and food safety. The results showed that the application of the One Health concept to the development and implementation of policies is associated with a growing need to involve transdisciplinary teams for solving complex problems to improve communication and to ensure the relevance and acceptability of public policies, thus guaranteeing governance. According to the principle of efficiency, the government must be aware of the evolution of technical knowledge and should use the One Health approach to improve the efficacy of already existing systems. We, therefore, conducted this review to contextualize current knowledge in this topic which is becoming an essential tool for public health policy-makers and practitioners around the world promoting a reflection on the importance of multiprofessional articulation in the implementation of intersectoral public health policies.
... Animals represent an important part of our social environment and can provide a relevant complement to human relationships. Since one of the most important health-related factors lies in our social relationships and social support by others (Coan, 2011;Holt-Lunstad et al., 2015), it is not surprising that companion animals have such a significant impact on human health (Headey and Grabka, 2007). This impact of animals on human health and well-being represents an important aspect of One Health, which is reviewed in this chapter. ...
... In Australia and Germany, people who continuously owned a pet over several years were the healthiest in contrast to those who had either lost or just acquired a pet. Even when controlling for age, marital status, gender, income and other variables associated with health, the dog owners reported 15% fewer annual doctor visits than non-owners (Headey and Grabka, 2007). Since most of these studies are cross-sectional, the direction of the effect is not clear (Friedmann and Gee, 2018), but it is suggested that having a companion animal can improve the owner's health and that it is not only due to the fact that healthier people adopt pets. ...
Chapter
The second edition of this book contains 32 chapters divided into 4 main sections that discuss the theoretical foundations of One Health; methods, skills and perspectives for the practice of One Health; the application of One Health in infectious and non-infectious diseases and governance and capacity building, all of which are related to the global issues of the prevention and control of animal, plant and human diseases in the wake of drug resistance by pathogens, biodiversity loss, natural disasters, climate change and the recent COVID-19 novel coronavirus pandemic.
... Whilst acknowledging that studies on the interaction between humans and companion animals are limited, what has emerged from the studies is a general support for the notion that owning a companion animal has positive influences on the physical, psychological, and social well-being of human beings [9]. Physically, ownership of companion animals has been associated with higher survival rates from cardiovascular diseases [10,11], lower cholesterol and blood pressure levels [12,13], fewer reports of minor health problems such as headaches, colds, and dizziness [14], and fewer doctors' consultation sessions [15]. In the long term, animal companionship has the propensity to reduce the community's healthcare costs [14,16]. ...
... Examinations on the relationships between companion animal ownership and human well-being have been mainly conducted in countries such as Australia, Canada, Germany, New Zealand, United Kingdom, and the United States [14,15,21,24,[40][41][42][43], where companion animal ownership is more common, finding that attitudes towards animals are generally positive and there is a more fluid spatial boundary between human and non-human animals [44,45]. Hong Kong provides a unique context in the study of HAI, especially as it is anticipated that globally more people will live in cities, especially mega-cities, in the coming decades. ...
Article
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Global urbanization has given cause for a re-assessment of the nature and importance of the relationship between humans and domesticated animals. In densely-populated urban societies, where loneliness and alienation can be prevalent, the use of animals as human companions has taken on heightened importance. Hong Kong is the world’s most urbanised political entity, and thus provides an ideal context for the exploration of the role of animals in the provision of companionship for human beings in cities. A web-based survey with descriptive analyses, regression, and ANOVA was conducted. Six-hundred-and-forty-seven companion animal owners and 312 non-owners completed the survey that examined their socio-demographic information, companion animal ownership status, and physical-psychosocial well-being. The statistically significant findings appear to suggest that socio-demographic variables (i.e., age, gender, housing, and education level) have stronger predictive values than companion animal ownership status with respect to the well-being of people in Hong Kong. Due the unique environmental features in Hong Kong, the positive impacts of companion animal ownership on the physical well-being of owners may be limited by the city’s cramped living space and the limited number of people who own companion animals. However, results suggested that companion animals may still serve as a social lubricant between the owners and their significant others, thereby playing a heightened role significant role in enhancing general social connectedness in a metropolis. Given the importance of animals as human companions, it is suggested that relevant administrative agencies need to consider the development of policies and facilities which are conducive to both the maintenance and development of the bonds between humans and their companion animals and the physical and psychosocial health of both.
... Numerous studies have demonstrated the benefits of pets [38][39][40]. Pet owners, compared with non-owners, are more physically fit [41][42][43][44], have lower levels of depression [45], higher social functioning [46] and enhanced social support [44,45,[47][48][49]]. ...
... Sharing one's home with a companion dog offers a multitude of both physical and psychological benefits [38][39][40]43,46,49], but due to a dog's relatively short lifespan, also typically includes aging and ultimately, loss. The impact on guardians when caring for an aging dog appears to share many similarities with caregivers of human family members. ...
Article
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Companion dogs are increasingly popular, 38.4% of households in the United States include at least one dog. There are numerous benefits to sharing one’s home with a dog, but because they age more rapidly than people and have shorter lifespans, acquiring a dog often includes caring for it during its senior years. Caring for an elderly dog can be physically and emotionally challenging, yet the impact on guardians’ lives when caring for an aging dog has received minimal scientific attention. This study was designed to better understand dog guardians’ experiences and perceptions related to caring for their aging dog. Utilizing an exploratory mixed methods design, this study asked dog guardians to complete an online anonymous survey. From a total of 284 participants, we found that the impact on guardians when caring for an aging dog appears to share many similarities with caregivers of human family members. Our quantitative and qualitative results suggest that, for many guardians, caring for an aging dog is a complex dynamic with both positive and negative factors that offers an opportunity to deepen the human-animal bond and create positive, rewarding experiences and memories.
... No significant differences were found in this indicator between people with and without compatibility with their dog's activity preferences. This indicator has been used in previous studies [1,25], including epidemiological and longitudinal studies revealing that people who lived with companion animals had fewer doctor visits than similar people without companion animals [1] and a longitudinal study with data from Germany and Australia showing that owners of companion animals had 15% fewer doctor visits per year compared to nonowners [25]. Considering the above, it is concluded that compatibility does not explain the doctor visits indicator. ...
... No significant differences were found in this indicator between people with and without compatibility with their dog's activity preferences. This indicator has been used in previous studies [1,25], including epidemiological and longitudinal studies revealing that people who lived with companion animals had fewer doctor visits than similar people without companion animals [1] and a longitudinal study with data from Germany and Australia showing that owners of companion animals had 15% fewer doctor visits per year compared to nonowners [25]. Considering the above, it is concluded that compatibility does not explain the doctor visits indicator. ...
Article
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Compatibility in activity preferences refers to the shared enjoyment of daily activities, such as walking and interacting with others, and it is an indicator of the behavioral dimension of compatibility, which mainly refers to exercise and play. It has been found that individuals who are more compatible with their dogs have a better relationship with them, which can explain some of the benefits of human-dog interaction. However, research to explain how and why human-animal relationships are potentially therapeutic is still needed. The objective of this quantitative study was to compare the benefits of human-dog interaction for both humans and dogs between people who were and were not compatible with their dogs. Ninety people with scores of 50% or less on the compatibility index and 110 people with 100% compatibility participated in the study. The groups were compared using the Mann-Whitney U test. The people in the group with greater compatibility reported more subjective happiness and less perceived stress, a stable dog-feeding routine, and more frequent daily walks and playing sessions; additionally, for their dogs, they reported a lower frequency of aggressive and fearful behaviors and higher trainability scores. In conclusion, compatibility in activity preferences helps explain the benefits of human–animal interaction.
... A total of 79% of pet owners stated that their pet helps them to get through the difficult times, as the majority of owners considered their pets to be a part of the family [19]. Pet ownership has been repeatedly linked to increased health by means of fewer doctor visits and less use of medication and, as a result, pets could possibly save national health expenditures [19][20][21]. Potential health benefits of assistance dogs are often overlooked by medical professionals, as the health management is primarily focused on pharmacological and surgical treatments. The most common mobile aid associated with blind people is the white cane, and although the cane is a very practical mobile aid, an overwhelming majority of guide dog owners preferred guide dogs over the cane [13,22,23]. ...
... Milan [51] concluded that there is no association between levels of depression and mobility dog ownership. However, accounting for the positive effects of dog companionship on human health [18][19][20][21], it is also possible that people with higher levels of depression, anxiety, or blood pressure are more likely to apply for a guide dog in the hopes of alleviating those conditions. Only descriptive data analysis revealed higher injecting of addictive substances like smoking behavior, and consumption of cannabis, stimulants, and sedative drugs in the GD group. ...
Article
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Blindness has previously been associated with impaired quality of life (QOL). Guide dogs may not only support blind people in their independency, but also facilitate social relationships and overall health. This study sought to investigate whether blind people from Austria with a guide dog, when compared with blind people without a guide dog, differ in their QOL, annual medical costs, and attitudes towards the human–guide dog relationship. Participants (n = 36) filled out an online accessible questionnaire that consisted of the World Health Organization (WHO)QOL-BREF and additional self-designed questions. Guide dog ownership was not associated with a better QOL. However, yearly medical cost expenditures were descriptively lower in guide dog owners, who were also more likely to believe that guide dogs can increase their independency and exert positive effects on health. Moreover, guide dog owners more likely considered a guide dog as a family member than non-guide dog owners. Although within the framework of this study, owning a guide dog was not significantly associated with increased QOL, some differences between the groups regarding health beliefs, attitude towards the dog, and relationship with the dog were identified. Accounting for the emerging prevalence of visual impairment, further research into this topic is warranted.
... The probability of meeting the PA guidelines is four times greater with dog walking owners [11]. Pet owners tend to be healthier than non-pet owners and healthier than those who were not ever pet owners [13]. Even if homes have a fenced in back yard, dog walking recreationally around the neighborhood is highly beneficial health wise, lowering cardiovascular risk factors such as blood pressure, LDL cholesterol levels and triglycerides, ultimately leading to lower medical costs [13,14,15,16]. ...
... Pet owners tend to be healthier than non-pet owners and healthier than those who were not ever pet owners [13]. Even if homes have a fenced in back yard, dog walking recreationally around the neighborhood is highly beneficial health wise, lowering cardiovascular risk factors such as blood pressure, LDL cholesterol levels and triglycerides, ultimately leading to lower medical costs [13,14,15,16]. ...
... For example, studies frequently draw on small convenience samples or are limited to subgroups, such as older adults (Parslow et al., 2005;Stanley et al., 2014) and groups diagnosed with illnesses such as cancer (Johnson, Meadows, Haubner, & Sevedge, 2008;Muschel, 1984) or HIV/AIDS (Siegel et al., 1999), thereby limiting generalizability to the wider population. However, it is worth noting that nationally representative studies tend to find no reliable evidence for the pet effect (Gillum & Obisesan, 2010) or for the inference that pet owners are worse off than non-owners (Headey, 1999;Headey & Grabka, 2007;Koivusilta & Ojanlatva, 2006;Müllersdorf et al., 2010;Stallones et al., 1990). ...
Article
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Although the relationship between pet ownership and health and wellbeing has received considerable attention in popular media, research on the topic shows inconsistent findings. We addressed the methodological weaknesses of previous studies by using data from a national probability survey (the New Zealand Attitudes and Values Study; n = 13,347). We describe the demographic characteristics and personality of pet owners in New Zealand, examine whether pet owners cluster together by pet types, and test whether pet ownership and pet type are associated with health and wellbeing measures. The majority of participants (61.6%) reported having a pet, and we identified six clusters of ownership by pet type. Pet owners were more likely than non-owners to be younger, women, European, parents, partnered, employed, living rurally, and living in less deprived areas. Pet owners were less likely than non-owners to be of Asian ethnicity and religious and had lower mean levels of education. We found no evidence of reliable differences between pet owners and non-owners in the personality characteristics of extraversion, agreeableness, neuroticism, or honesty-humility. However, pet owners scored higher than non-owners in openness and lower in conscientiousness. We found no reliable differences between pet owners and non-owners in selfesteem, life satisfaction, psychological distress, physical health diagnoses, or self-reported health. However, compared with non-owners, pet owners were more likely to report diagnoses of depression and anxiety. Although the relationship between pet ownership and depression diagnoses held across the six clusters of pet ownership, results indicated that the higher rates of anxiety were most commonly associated with cat ownership. Future longitudinal research is needed to establish whether pets decrease owners’ health and wellbeing or rather that people in need of comfort tend to seek pets.
... Dogs play an astonishing range of roles in human society, including affecting social interactions, lifestyles, and economics (Hart, 1995;Schoeberl et al., 2012;Udell & Wynne, 2008). Despite their overall positive impact on human well-being and health (Heady & Grabka, 2007;Westgarth, Christian, & Christley, 2015;Westgarth, Christley, & Christian, 2014), companion dogs canjust like humansdisplay unwanted behaviors. These are typically behaviors that either occur too often (i.e., behavioral excesses) or not often enough (i.e., behavioral deficits -Pierce & Cheney, 2013). ...
Article
The present review assessed the current knowledge regarding caregiver- training effectiveness for human and human-canine dyads. Most canine-related sources (66%; n = 19) were case studies reporting a decrease of learner undesired behavior when using oral instruction (21%; n = 6). Most human-related research used single-case designs (57%; n = 26) reporting an increase in desired learner behavior (22%; n = 10) when caregivers received multi-component training packages (17%, n = 8). The meta-analysis (n = 18) revealed that interventions had a large effect (Hedges’ g = 0.88, 95%CI [0.68–1.07]), with packages yielding a slightly larger moderate effect (Hedges’ g = 0.76, 95%CI [0.60–0.91]) than oral instruction alone (Hedges’ g = 0.74, 95%CI [0.32–1,15]). Although the effectiveness of caregiver training is promising, the results should be interpreted cautiously. Due to the preponderance of case studies within canine literature and the insufficient reporting of data across sources, only few studies could be included in the meta-analysis. Overall, more systematic and comparative research regarding the efficacy of caregivers in behavior change programs across species is needed.
... [12][13][14] This association has been observed in adults, 15 16 adolescents and children, [17][18][19] in groups with potential limited mobility such as older adults [20][21][22] and in people with a chronic disease. 23 Consequently, dog walking may lead to better health over time, with benefits ranging from improved well-being 24 to fewer doctor visits 25 and a lower risk of cardiovascular disease and mortality. 26 However, not all studies show health benefits of dog ownership [27][28][29] and a large proportion of dog owners do not walk their dog. ...
Article
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Objectives Dog owners walking their dog in natural outdoor environments (NOE) may benefit from the physical activity facilitated by dog walking and from time spent in nature. However, it is unclear whether dog owners receive additional health benefits associated with having access to NOE above the physical activity benefit of walking with their dog. We investigated associations between dog ownership, walking, time spent in NOE and health and whether these associations differed among those with good and poor access to NOE and those living in green and less green areas. Design Cross-sectional study. Setting The Positive Health Effects of the Natural Outdoor Environment in Typical Populations in Different Regions in Europe project. Participants n=3586 adults from Barcelona (Spain), Doetinchem (the Netherlands), Kaunas (Lithuania) and Stoke-on-Trent (UK). Data collection and analysis We calculated access to NOE with land maps and residential surrounding greenness with satellite data. Leisure time walking, time spent in NOE and general and mental health status were measured using validated questionnaires. Associations were estimated using multilevel analysis with a random intercept defined at the neighbourhood level. Results Dog ownership was associated with higher rates of leisure time walking and time spending in NOE (OR 2.17, 95% CI 1.86 to 2.54 and 2.37, 95% CI 2.02 to 2.79, respectively). These associations were stronger in those living within 300 m of a NOE and in greener areas. No consistent associations were found between dog ownership and perceived general or mental health status. Conclusions Compared with non-dog owners, dog owners walked more and spent more time in NOE, especially those living within 300 m of a NOE and in greener areas. The health implications of these relationships should be further investigated. In a largely physically inactive society, dog walking in NOE may be a simple way of promoting physical activity and health.
... New dog ownership as a positive predictor of quitting was another unanticipated finding. Although there is some evidence that having a pet can motivate healthy behaviour changes [29,30], this finding would need to be confirmed by other studies. In contrast, the likelihood of quitting was lower in women and decreased with increasing number of cigarettes smoked per day, an indicator of dependency. ...
Article
Introduction: Smoking is still the most preventable cause of disease and premature death in Switzerland, as elsewhere. We aimed to assess the main determinants of smoking cessation in the population-based cohort of SAPALDIA (Swiss Cohort Study on Air Pollution and Lung and Heart Diseases in Adults). Methods: The SAPALDIA study was initiated in 1991 with 9651 participants aged 18 to 60 years from eight areas (S1). Follow-up assessments were conducted in 2002 (S2; 8047 participants) and 2010/11 (S3; 6088 participants). At each survey, detailed information on health and potential health-related factors was collected and lung function measured. Using logistic regression, we assessed predictors of smoking cessation between S1 and S2 and between S2 and S3. Results: In both periods, highest educational level (summary odds ratio [OR] 1.49, 95% confidence interval [CI] 1.08-2.06; ref. lowest level), FEV1/FVC <0.5 (OR 6.19, 95% CI 2.44-15.7, ref. FEV1/FVC ≥0.7), higher age in men (OR 1.02, 95% CI 1.01-1.03, per year) and overweight (OR 1.38, 95% CI 1.16-1.64) were significant predictors of smoking cessation. Nicotine dependence (OR 0.97, 95% CI 0.96-0.98, per cigarette smoked a day) and female sex between age 45 and 60 (e.g., OR 0.74, 95% CI 0.61-0.91, at age 50) were negatively associated with smoking cessation. Moreover, smokers at S2 reporting a diagnosis of depression were less likely to quit smoking by S3 (OR 0.53, 95% CI 0.30-0.93). Conclusions: Prospective tobacco control policies in Switzerland should be addressed to women, younger persons and persons of lower education.
... We use the term well-being in the broadest sense to encompass physical, mental, and social domains of health to encourage a more holistic approach to disease prevention, disease management and health promotion [18]. Specifically, dog ownership has been associated with: improved physical activity [19][20][21][22], better mental well-being [23][24][25], greater connectedness to the community or 'social capital' [26,27] and reduced medical costs [28]. The benefits are so positive that dog-walking has been encouraged as a population outreach activity for health promotion and disease prevention [19]. ...
Article
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Chronic low back pain is a significant societal and personal burden that negatively impacts quality of life. Dog ownership has been associated with health benefits. This study evaluated the feasibility of surveying people with chronic low back pain to assess the relationship between dog ownership and well-being. A mail-out survey was sent to 210 adult patients with chronic low back pain. Measures of quality of life, pain, physical activity, emotional health, social ties and dog ownership were included. Feasibility was assessed by examining survey response rate, responses to established and newly developed measures, and the potential relationships between dog ownership and a number of key well-being variables in this patient population. There were 56 completed surveys returned (n = 36 non-dog owners and n = 20 dog owners). Established, adapted and newly developed scales revealed promising results. Dog owners reported fewer depression and anxiety symptoms, and more social ties than non-dog owners. Living with a dog may be associated with improved well-being for people with chronic pain. The findings from this feasibility study will inform a general population survey, to be conducted with a larger, more representative sample of people living with chronic pain.
... In the U.S., 68% of all households own one or more pets [1], and similar rates of ownership are found across Europe, Australia, China, and Japan [2]. A variety of health benefits have been claimed for pet ownership in adults, including lower risk of cardiovascular disease [3,4] lower blood pressure, increased physical activity, and increased social interactions with other people [5][6][7][8][9]. ...
Article
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With many children and young adolescents reporting strong emotional bonds with their pets, the impact of pet ownership on child/adolescent health—especially on their emotional development—has garnered increasing scientific interest. We examined the association between pet ownership in toddlerhood (age 3.5 years) and poor emotional expression in later childhood (age 5.5 years) using propensity score matching within a longitudinal cohort dataset from Japan (n = 31,453). A propensity score for pet ownership was calculated by logistic models based on a comprehensive list of each child’s observed characteristics, including sex, household income, parental education, mother’s employment status, residential environment, number of siblings, and living arrangement. Log-binomial regression analyses using matched samples revealed that children who owned pets during the toddler years were 6% less likely to have a poor emotional expression in later childhood (prevalence ratio = 0.94, 95% confidence interval = 0.90–0.99) compared to those without pets. This suggests that owning pets may provide children with opportunities to control their emotions, and lead to a lower prevalence of poor emotional expression. Pet ownership in toddlerhood may contribute to the development of expression.
... Overall, pet owners who continuously own pets are in the best health, whereas people who either stop owning pets or never owned pets are less healthy (Headey & Grabka, 2007). Headey, Na and Zheng (2008) had the unique opportunity to conduct a "natural experiment" on pet ownership, since pets had been banned from urban areas in China until 1992. ...
Thesis
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Though there is an expanding focus on the beneficial role of pets in the fields of nursing and veterinary medicine, the social sciences have been behind in paying attention to the significant role that pets play in human lives. Much has been made of findings that pet dogs may have a significant impact on physiological measures of health. However, dogs have also been associated with psychological measures of well-being, both through animal-assisted therapy and in the general population of dog owners. Whether the mechanism is touch, exercise, attachment, nonevaluative social support, or some combination of these, the human connection to the non-human animal world merits further investigation. Previous results have been mixed, and studies suffer from a lack of large sample sizes or sufficient control conditions, among other weaknesses. The current study attempts to address some of the gaps in the literature by assessing the impact of the presence of pet dogs on their owners" responses to a negative mood induction procedure. Controlling for dog ownership as well as for the presence of the dog, and collecting demographic information from each participant in addition to measures of self-esteem, depression, social support, attitudes towards pets, and attachment to pets, this study found that among single female dog owners, positive attitudes towards animals were associated with positive mood prior to the mood induction. In addition, dog owners accompanied by their dogs experienced significantly lower despondency scores compared to non-owners prior to the mood induction. However, the presence of a pet dog was associated with increases in anxiety and apprehension subsequent to the mood induction, suggesting the importance of considering contextual factors when evaluating the emotional benefits of dog ownership.
... For example, the bond may prompt people to exercise, improve cardiovascular function, and reduce doctor visits [37]. A possible health-promoting mechanism in these effects is the release of the hormone oxytocin, resulting from intimate and pleasing contact with others [80]. ...
Conference Paper
Robot pets are being developed and deployed to provide companionship for older adults. While robot pets offer some therapeutic benefits, their intended use for 'companionship' often provokes ethical debate, including concern that interactions with robot pets are demeaning or lack value compared to other social interactions. Another concern is that robot pets provide no real advantages over companion animals. This conceptual paper draws on philosophy, human-animal bond research, and technology development in robotics, to consider whether robot pets provide new opportunities for companionship as opposed to just 'reinventing the wheel'. We argue that robot pets may sometimes be as beneficial as companion animals or offer something different and distinctive. The paper provides a foundation for further multidisciplinary research to advance understanding of the ethical issues and the opportunities and challenges that arise in our ongoing and changing relationships with new technologies such as robot pets.
... Indeed, owning a dog increases the likelihood of you surviving a heart attack (26)(27)(28) such that even the American Heart Association advocates dog ownership as a way to reduce the risk of cardiovascular disease (29). Australian, German, and Chinese studies show that pet ownership decreases doctor visits, and reduces the likelihood of cardiac problems and sleeping difficulties (30)(31)(32)(33). Interventions with dogs improve the outcome of children, adolescents, and adults with a range of medical and psychological problems including post-traumatic stress disorder, developmental disabilities, schizophrenia, autism-spectrum disorders, and cancer (34)(35)(36)(37)(38). ...
... Almanya ve Avustralya'da yirmi yıl boyunca devam etmiş bir araştırmada, uzun süredir bir evcil hayvana sahip olan kişiler ile artık bir evcil hayvana sahip olmayan ve hiçbir zaman evcil hayvana sahip olmamış kişilerin sağlık durumları karşılaştırılmış; en sağlıklı grubun uzun süredir bir evcil hayvana sahip olan grup olduğu tespit edilmiştir (Headey ve Grabka, 2006). ...
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Animal-assisted intervention is an intervention method that is shaped on the basis of human-animal relationships and is defined as the use of animals to solve people's problems. The use of animal support, especially in integrated interventions, is becoming increasingly widespread throughout the world, with the effect of scientific evidence. This method can also be used as a social work intervention in disadvantaged groups such as victims of violence, children at risk, victims of trauma, prisoners, elderly people, and people with disabilities. However, there is no study on the use of this intervention in the field of social work in our country. Therefore, the aim of this study is to present a review of the use of animal-based interventions in social work practice, which has been proven in various studies to have positive effects in improving, developing and maintaining physical, psychological and social well-being. In order to reach this aim, the historical process, definition and benefits of animal-assisted therapy and animal-assisted intervention are emphasized. Later, the theoretical foundations of the animal-assisted interventions, their use in social work interventions and the role of social workers in these team work required interventions are revealed. Özet Hayvan destekli müdahale insan-hayvan ilişkisi temelinde şekillenen, insanların problemlerini çözme amacıyla hayvanların kullanımı olarak tanımlanan bir müdahale yöntemidir. Bilimsel kanıtların da etkisi ile özellikle bütüncül müdahalelerde hayvan desteğinden yararlanma, tüm dünyada giderek yaygınlaşmaktadır. Bu yöntem, şiddet mağdurları, risk altındaki çocuklar, travma mağdurları, mahkumlar, yaşlılar, engelliler gibi dezavantajlı gruplarda sosyal çalışma müdahalesi olarak da kullanılmaktadır. Bununla birlikte ülkemizde sosyal çalışma alanında bu müdahale hakkında herhangi bir çalışma bulunmamaktadır. Bu nedenle bu çalışmanın amacı, fiziksel, psikolojik ve sosyal sağlığın iyileştirilmesi, geliştirilmesi ve korunmasında olumlu etkileri çeşitli araştırmalarla kanıtlanmış olan hayvan destekli müdahalenin sosyal çalışma uygulamalarında kullanımına ilişkin bir derleme sunmaktır. Bu amaca ulaşabilmek için, önce hayvan destekli tedavi ve hayvan destekli müdahalenin tarihsel süreci, tanımı ve yararları üzerinde durulmuştur. Daha sonra hayvan destekli müdahalelerin teorik çerçevesi, sosyal çalışma müdahalelerinde kullanımı ve ekip çalışması gerektiren bu müdahalelerde sosyal çalışmacıların rollerinin ne olduğu ortaya konmuştur.
... assisted-therapy with dogs has been reported in a range of different healthcare settings including: children's hospitals (Churhansen, mcarthur, Winefield, hanieh, & hazel, 2014); mental health clinics (maujean, Pepping, & Kendall, 2015); outpatient pain management clinics (marcus et al., 2012); and long-term care facilities (Cipriani et al., 2013). In the home environment, living with a dog has been shown O to provide several benefits to wellbeing, including improved physical activity (Christian et al., 2016;thorpe et al., 2006), better mental wellbeing (mcNicholas et al., 2005), greater connectedness to the community or "social capital" (Wood, Giles-Corti, & Bulsara, 2005), and reduced medical costs (headey & Grabka, 2007). a companion animal (e.g., cats, dogs) generally includes any animal that shares its life with a human caregiver (Chur-hansen, Stern, & Winefield, 2010). ...
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Pain is a significant burden for those with chronic disease and negatively impacts quality of life, causing disability and substantial work and health-care costs. Chronic pain has been identified as one of the most important current and future causes of morbidity and disability across the world. Living with a dog has been associated with greater physical activity, less disability, more social ties to the community, and improved mental health. In this study, we sought answers to the research question, “What is the meaning and experience of chronic pain for people who live with a dog?” Using a descriptive qualitative research design, we conducted telephone interviews with 12 patients who lived with a dog, attending a tertiary chronic pain program in western Canada. Transcribed interviews were subject to thematic and interpretive analysis. Participants ranged in age from 39 to 70 years of age (average 54 years) and had experienced chronic pain for an average of 15 years. The analysis identified four themes that gave under-standing as to how people who live with a dog experience chronic pain: dog gives life meaning; dog as caregiver; dog gives emotional support; and dog provides companionship. For those experiencing chronic pain, living with a dog was reported to positively impact their quality of life, mental wellbeing, physical activity, and social interaction. For some participants, living with a dog provided a reason to live and focus on the future. For people with chronic pain, living with a dog may enhance the quality of their lives and provide support that mitigates their suffering and enables them to live a more meaningful life.
... Researchers frequently claim there are health and social benefits from interacting with pets, particularly dogs [1]. The suggested health benefits include intrinsic benefits of lowering blood pressure [2,3] reducing medication input, fewer visits to the doctor [4,5] and lowering the risk of heart disease or dying within a year of having a heart attack [6]. Owning a pet has also been found to improve self-esteem, reduce stress [5,6] and provide support for women suffering from loneliness [7,8]. ...
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Background: To explore associations between pets, and specifically dog ownership and sleep, health, exercise and neighbourhood. Methods: Cross sectional examination of 6575 participants of the Whitehall II study aged between 59 and 79 years. We used self-assessed measurement scales of the Short Form (SF36), General Health Questionnaire (GHQ), Control, Autonomy, Self-realisation and Pleasure (CASP), Centre for Epidemiologic Studies Depression Scale (CES-D), sleep, exercise, and perceptions of local neighbourhood. In addition the Mini Mental State Examination which is administered to test global cognitive status (MMSE). Results: We found 2/7 people owned a pet and of those 64% were "very" attached to their pet. Mild exercise in metabolic equivalents (MET-hours) was significantly higher in pet owners than non-owners (median 27.8 (IQR 18.1 to 41.8) vs 25.7 (IQR 16.8 to 38.7), p = 0.0001), and in dog owners than other pets (median 32.3 (IQR 20.8 to 46.1) vs 25.6 (IQR 16.8 to 38.5), p < 0.0001). Moderate exercise was also significantly higher in pet owners than non pet owners (median 11.8 (IQR 4.2 to 21.9) vs 9.8 (IQR 2.8 to 19.5), p < 0.0001), and dog owners than owners of other pets (median 12.3 (IQR 4.2 to 22.2) vs 10.1 (3.1 to 20.0), p = 0.0002) but there were no significant differences with vigorous exercise. We found that pet owners were significantly more positive about their neighbourhood than non-owners on 8/9 questions, while dog owners were (significantly) even more positive than owners of other pets on 8/9 questions. Associations with sleep were mixed, although dog owners had less trouble falling asleep than non-dog owners, with borderline statistical significance. Conclusion: Dog owners feel more positive about their neighbourhood, do more exercise, and fall asleep more easily than non-dog owners. These results suggest that dog owners could be more likely to exercise by walking their dogs and therefore may be more familiar and positive about the area in which they walk their dog.
... When the pet owning and non-owning samples from Germany were matched to account for demographic differences, the pet owners averaged 24% fewer doctor visits compared with the non-owners. The results from Australia indicated that pet owners made 11% fewer doctor visits than non-owners, and confirmed that those who owned pets in both 1996 and 2001 were significantly healthier than those who either ceased to own a pet during the period or had never owned one (Headey & Grabka 2007). ...
Chapter
Companion animals (or pets) form a distinctive category of domestic animals defined by their primary use as nonhuman social support providers. Companion animals have an ancient history that may precede and anticipate the original domestication of animals. Currently, more than 60% of European and American households keep pets, and their numbers are increasing rapidly in several emerging economies. The results of research over the past four decades suggest that relationships with companion animals may be beneficial to human health and well-being, though the extent of the benefits will likely depend on relationship quality. Exposure to positive relationships with pets in childhood may also predispose people to develop more empathic responses to animals later in life. In spite of these benefits, pet ownership also imposes costs, particularly in terms of environmental damage, risk to public health and threat to animal welfare. The future of these exceptional human–animal relationships will depend on striking a positive balance between the benefits and the costs.
... Allen et al., 2001Allen et al., , 2002Friedmann, Thomas, Cook, Tsai, Picot, 2007;Friedmann et al., 1983;Vormbrock & Grossberg, 1988 Menor cantidad de consultas médicas realizadas y de problemas médicos no complejos. Headey & Grabka, 2007;Serpell, 1991;Siegel, 1990 Mayores medidas de bienestar percibido, menor percepción de estrés y de sentimientos de soledad Krause-Parello & Gulick, 2014;Lee & Chai, 2015;Zasloff & Kidd, 1994 Mayor autoestima, menor sensación de abatimiento y mayor percepción de capacidad y autoeficacia Covert, Whiren, Keith, & Nelson, 1985;Zilcha-Mano et al. 2011 Incremento y facilitación de interacciones sociales Charles & Davies, 2008;Guéguen & Ciccotti, 2008;Hart, Hart, & Bergin, 1987;Robins et al., 1991;Wells, 2004;Wood, Giles-Corti, Bulsara, & Bosch, 2007 animales se asocian con más salud y bienestar en los seres humanos (Martens et al., 2016). Por ejemplo, algunas circunstancias vitales que hacen surgir necesidades de acompañamiento pueden ser aliviadas por las mascotas, como cuando una enfermedad reduce la movilidad de las personas (Allen & Blascovich, 1996), cuando estas tienen acceso limitado a fuentes de apoyo social (Allen et al., 2001) o cuando viven solas (Zasloff & Kidd, 1994). ...
Article
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Los vínculos entre personas y otros animales se han convertido en área respetada de investigación dentro de la antrozoología. La Asociación Americana de Medicina Veterinaria los define como relaciones dinámicas y mutuamente beneficiosas que incluyen conductas que impactan en el bienestar de los humanos y animales implicados. Con el propósito de describir sus particularidades, se revisan las tres teorías más renombradas sobre la formación de vínculos humano-animal: Teoría del Apoyo Social, Teoría del Apego y Teoría de la Biofilia. Partiendo de un esquema propuesto por Fine (2014; 2019) se desarrollan los constructos conceptualizados como factores que motivan la formación de estos vínculos, proponiendo una redefinición y ampliación de estos factores. De este modo, se plantea un esquema integrado por: (1) antropomorfismo, (2) dependencia/cuidados nutricios, (3) integración en la vida familiar, (4) balance costo-beneficio, y (5) influencia sociocultural. Estos factores se fundamentan a su vez en el apoyo social, el apego y la biofilia. Finalmente, se discute la falta de mención del afecto implicado en la definición de vínculo. Se cuestiona el intento de adecuación conceptual del vínculo humano-animal a una definición de amistad, en tanto el primero cuenta diferencialmente con la asimetría dada por la dependencia y los cuidados, más bien, propios de una relación parental. Así, se desarrolla el concepto de amor familiar, como un afecto desinteresado y leal que permite que vínculos sociales externos a la familia puedan ser incorporados a esta, y se integra esta noción a la definición del vínculo. Abstract: The bonds between people and other animals has become a respected research field within anthrozoology. The American Veterinary Medical Association (AVMA) considers them as dynamic and mutually beneficial relationships, which include actions that impact on the wellbeing of both parts. With the aim of describing their particular traits, we revisited the three most renowned theories on the human-animal bond formation: Social support theory, Attachment theory and Biophilia theory (hypothesis). As of a scheme proposed by Fine (2014; 2019) the conceptualized constructs as factors that motivate the formation of these bonds were developed, which led to their redefinition and extension. Hence, we pose a scheme compound of: (1) anthropomorphism, (2) dependence/nurturing, (3) integration in family life, (4) cost-benefit balance and (5) sociocultural influence. These factors are grounded, at the same time, on social support, attachment and biophilia. Finally, we discuss the omission of affection implied in the definition of bond. We question the intent of conceptual adequation of the human-animal bond into a friendship definition, as the former possesses a differential asymmetry given by the dependency and care, rather typical of a parental relationship. Thus, the concept of familial love is developed as a selfless and loyal kind of affection that allow external social bonds to be incorporated to the family and this notion is integrated in the bond definition.
... Despite extensive literature on the physical health benefits of keeping cats and dogs, studies on long-term physical health benefits are scarce and have provided mixed results. Some studies claim that humans keeping companion animals are generally in better physical health, visit the doctor less frequently, and use less medication than people not keeping companion animals (Headey & Grabka, 2007;Morley & Fook, 2005;Müllersdorf et al., 2010). Other studies showed poorer health for certain subpopulations, for example, the elderly (Parslow, Jorm, Christensen, & Rodgers, 2005). ...
Article
Although various benefits of cats and dogs have been extensively studied, their fundamental economic value is poorly understood. Economic values are, in contrast to monetary values, determined subjectively and guide individuals in their decisions. This study presents a conceptual economic model of the value of cats and dogs which provides a basis for future research. Benefits of cats and dogs identified in the literature are categorized in relation to the model. The multidimensional value of these nonhuman animals includes different use and non-use values, for caretakers and other humans. Data from an online survey on the salience (importance of attributes in memory) of cats and dogs in Sweden provide support for the proposed model. It is argued that the subjective well-being approach developed in psychology provides a good starting point for estimating many of the economic values of these animals, but that different types of values may require different approaches.
... Our world is changing, and as populations become increasingly aged in many countries, communities need to be better able to support this societal shift. New, innovative approaches to help older adults remain healthier for longer as they age may extend their healthspan but also potentially reduce the burden of healthcare costs (62). The role that pets play in creating healthier, more engaged communities should not be overlooked. ...
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Dogs act as companions who provide us with emotional and physical support. Their shorter lifespans compel us to learn about the challenges and gifts of caring for older individuals. Our companion dogs can be exemplars of healthy or unhealthy aging, and sentinels of environmental factors that might increase or decrease our own healthy lifespan. In recent years, the field of aging has emphasized not just lifespan, but healthspan—the period of healthy, active lifespan. This focus on healthy, active aging is reflected in the World Health Organization's current focus on healthy aging for the next decade and the 2016 Healthy Aging in Action initiative in the US. This paper explores the current research into aging in both people and companion dogs, and in particular, how the relationship between older adults and dogs impacts healthy, active aging for both parties. The human-dog relationship faces many challenges as dogs, and people, age. We discuss potential solutions to these challenges, including suggestions for ways to continue contact with dogs if dog ownership is no longer possible for an older person. Future research directions are outlined in order to encourage the building of a stronger evidence base for the role of dogs in the lives of older adults.
... Roughly, 36% of households in Germany are keeping dogs or cats as companion animals (Headey & Grabka, 2007). Within the last decades, the relationship between humans and pets is characterized by more intensive contact (Franklin & White, 2001;Krahn et al., 2015). ...
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During the first months of the coronavirus disease (COVID‐19) pandemic caused by severe acute respiratory syndrome coronavirus 2 (SARS‐CoV‐2), cases of human‐to‐cat transmission were reported. Seroconversion was shown in cats infected under experimental and natural conditions. This large‐scale survey of 1,005 serum samples was conducted to investigate anti‐SARS‐CoV‐2 antibody prevalence in domestic cats during the first 7 months of the pandemic in Germany and other European countries. In addition, we compared the sensitivity and specificity of two multispecies SARS‐CoV‐2 antibody enzyme‐linked immunosorbent assays (ELISA). Results were confirmed by using an indirect immunofluorescence test (iIFT) and a surrogate virus neutralization test (sVNT). Sera that were highly positive for feline coronavirus (FCoV) antibodies (n = 103) were included to correct for cross‐reactivity of the tests used. Our results showed an overall SARS‐CoV‐2 seropositivity of 1.9% (n = 19) in a receptor‐binding domain (RBD)‐based ELISA, additional 0.8% (n = 8) were giving inconclusive results. In contrast, a nucleocapsid‐based ELISA revealed 0.5% (n = 5) positive and 0.2% (n = 2) inconclusive results. While the iIFT and sVNT confirmed 100% of positive and 50%–57.1% of the doubtful results as determined in the RBD ELISA, the nucleocapsid‐based assay showed a high discrepancy and only one of the five positive results could be confirmed. The results indicate significant deficits of the nucleocapsid‐based ELISA with respect to sensitivity and specificity. Due to a significantly higher rate (5.8%) of positive results in the group of highly FCoV antibody‐positive samples, cross‐reactivity of the FCoV‐ELISA with SARS‐CoV‐2 antibodies cannot be excluded. Furthermore, we investigated the impact of direct contact of domestic cats (n = 23) to SARS‐CoV‐2 positive owners. Considering one inconclusive result, which got confirmed by iIFT, this exposure did not lead to a significantly higher prevalence (4.4%; p = .358) among tested subjects. Overall, we conclude that cats are a negligible entity with respect to virus transmission in Europe.
... There is already a substantial epidemiological recent literature on the potential health benefits of pet ownership. Ownership has been reported as being predictive of reduced mortality [12], improved cumulative survival rates [13], fewest doctor visits [14], and greater capacity to maintain ordinary activities of daily living (ADL) [15]. It is important to record, however, that these findings have been contested, with some large scale studies and literature reviews reporting no relationship between pet ownership and objectively measured health outcomes [16][17][18]. ...
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Objectives This study examined the association between dog and cat ownership, the onset of disability and all-cause mortality in an older population. Dog and cat owners take more regular exercise and have closer social relationships than non-owners. We further assess the beneficial effects of these moderating variables on the onset of disability and mortality. Methods Dog and cat ownership data were collected from 11233 community-dwelling adults age 65 years and older. These data were matched with data about the onset of disability held by the Japanese long-term care insurance system. Local registry data were used to ascertain all-cause mortality. Results During the approximately 3.5 year follow-up period, 17.1% of the sample suffered onset of disability, and 5.2% died. Logistic regression analysis indicated that, compared with a reference group of those who had never owned a dog (odds ratio fixed at 1.0), older adults who were currently dog owners had a significantly lower odds ratio of onset of disability (OR = 0.54 95% CI: 0.37–0.79). Our results further show that regular exercise interacts with dog ownership to reduce the risk of disability. The association of dog and/or cat ownership with all-cause mortality was not statistically significant. Conclusions Dog ownership appears to protect against incident disability among older Japanese adults. Additional benefits are gained from ownership combined with regular exercise. Daily dog care may have an important role to play in health promotion and successful aging.
... La evidencia de validez y confiabilidad obtenidas en el presente estudio abren una posibilidad importante sobre el uso de la ECA en diversos ámbitos, por ejemplo, en la investigación clínica en torno a los efectos positivos sobre la salud de personas que mantienen una interacción cercana con un animal de compañía o tienen actitudes positivas hacía ellos (Barker & Wolen, 2008;Friedmann & Son, 2009;Headey et al., 2002), encontrando en estos casos menores índices de ansiedad (Odendaal & Meintjes, 2003;Shiloh et al., 2003;Zilcha-Mano et al., 2012), menor estrés (Allen et al., 2001;Friedmann et al., 2007;Wells, 2005), mayores índices de bienestar (Sugawara et al., 2012) y en general una mejor salud (Headey & Grabka, 2007). ...
Article
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Humanos y animales se influyen mutuamente en una relación dinámica que deriva en situaciones benéficas o perjudiciales para ambos, por ello el estudio de las variables involucradas en esta relación adquiere relevancia. El presente estudio tuvo por objetivo evaluar las propiedades psicométricas de una Escala de Compasión hacía los Animales (ECA) en población mexicana perteneciente a diferentes estados en México. La investigación tuvo un diseño ex post facto, por medio de un muestreo no probabilístico se reclutaron 386 participantes hombres y mujeres, mayores de 18 años, a quienes se les aplicó la ECA. El análisis de datos mostró una adecuada consistencia interna (α= .93), una estructura unifactorial que explicó el 63% de la varianza y el análisis factorial confirmatorio arrojó adecuados índices de bondad de ajuste (χ2 entre los grados de libertad = 64.158 / 24 = 2,67, CFI = ,95, RMSEA = ,07, NFI = .96; IFI = .97). En conclusión la ECA es un instrumento adecuado para evaluar compasión hacia los animales en población mexicana.
... Even though we use a causal-predictive methodology, statements about causality cannot be drawn with certainty. Though there are studies, which have indicated that the relationship between pet ownership and health conditions might be causal and not only correlational (Headey and Grabka 2007). Nevertheless, these Covid-19 days have been tough times for all of us, and our study shows how companion animals can help us live a happier and more balanced life, as well as potentially and presumably vice versa. ...
Article
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The social distancing required during Covid-19 times tended to make people feel lonelier than usual. Those with pets might, however, have experienced this less, because pets are known for fostering their owners’ subjective well-being. Building on a recently published structural equation model, our study enhances the understanding of subjective well-being by including the construct social distancing during Covid-19 times. In order to answer our research question— How does human-pet relationship need support influence subjective well-being by considering social isolation during Covid-19 times? —we build on the basic needs theory, assuming that humans as well as their pets have an inherent need of autonomy, relatedness, and competence. Using a multivariate data analysis method, namely partial least squares structural equation modeling (PLS-SEM), we establish a path model and examine the relationship between human-pet relationship need support and subjective well-being by including psychological distress and social isolation during Covid-19 times as mediators. We operationalize subjective well-being as a three-dimensional construct consisting of positive affect, happiness, and life satisfaction. In a sample of 215 pet owners in the USA, supporting their need increases subjective well-being, and decreases the psychological distress and loneliness caused by social isolation during Covid-19 times. Furthermore, psychological distress decreases subjective well-being, whereas perceived loneliness during Covid-19 times does not. Our main contributions are to not only enhance our knowledge on the importance of human-pet relationships in critical times, but also to provide policy makers with insights into what influences people’s subjective well-being, which is closely related to their psychological health.
... Despite an estimated pet dog population of more than 52 million animals in Brazil (the second largest in the world 2 ), this demographic is underrepresented in the investigations of dog ownership and human well-being. 3 A growing body of research appears to associate pet ownership in general with improvement in human health, often referred to as the 'Pet Effect', 4,5 including increased life satisfaction, 6 positive emotions and a sense of purpose, 7 self-esteem, 8,9 physical fitness, 9 decreased chance of dying one year after a heart attack 10 and lower blood pressure, 11 along with reduced negative emotions, 9,12,13 depression 14 and a reduction in medical visits. 15,16 A review performed by the American Heart Association suggested that dog ownership might play a causal role in reducing heart problem risks. ...
Article
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Despite the abundance of studies investigating the benefits of having a dog, the specific aspects of dog ownership that impacts human well-being are not well understood. This study used a qualitative approach to create a framework of the main dog-related activities perceived by Brazilian owners to impact their well-being and compared the findings with those of a similar study in England. Thirty-two Brazilian dog owners from the five regions of the country were remotely interviewed. The thematic analysis of the transcripts generated a total of 58 dog-related activities, organised into 13 themes. Most activities were reported to have a positive effect on participants’ well-being, accounting for 76.8% of the total number of mentions in the interviews. ‘Playing with dog’ and ‘Dog presence’ were the themes most frequently associated with positive well-being outcomes, whereas ‘Unwanted behaviours’ and ‘Failing to meet dog's needs’ were the most commonly associated with negative outcomes. The dog-related activities reported by Brazilian dog owners and the well-being outcomes linked to those activities were consistent with the previous British sample in the framework that emerged. These findings suggest reliability between the two methods used to gather data (remote interview versus focus group) and, most importantly, provide consistent cross-cultural evidence for how certain activities impact dog owner’s well-being.
... Research of AAAs has recently reappeared across populations, ages, and contexts. A diverse spectrum of reported outcomes includes increased heart attack recovery (Cole et al., 2007) to decreased emotional distress (Headey and Grabka 2007). There is also evidence that contact with animals can produce physiological changes, including increased neurochemicals (i.e., endorphins, dopamine) and reduced physical stress measured by blood pressure and cortisol (Melson & Fine, 2015;Odendaal, 2000). ...
Article
Educators working with students with emotional and behavioral disorders (EBD) often search for high-interest approaches to enhance evidence-informed practices already in place. The integration of animal-assisted activities (AAA) may be a novel and flexible approach with the potential to support a variety of student goals, in particular for students with emotional or behavioral challenges. We provide a brief overview of AAAs across therapeutic, medical, and educational contexts followed by suggestions to design, implement, and monitor an AAA in one’s classroom.
... Previous studies revealed that the duration of pet ownership affects human health and well-being [19,21]. Additionally, participants with a history of pet ownership were excluded from a previous study [24]; in another previous study it was possible to infer a causal relationship between pet ownership and human health by evaluating the ownership status both at present and five years prior [10]. However, the current survey data did not provide information regarding the duration and history of pet ownership. ...
Article
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This study aimed to analyze the association between companion animal ownership, the sub-factors of this ownership (the species and number of owned pets), and overall life satisfaction (OLS). Data was obtained from the publicly available responses to the 2017 Seoul Survey, conducted among Seoul-based Korean locals aged ≥ 15 years (N = 42,687; pet owners = 8,708, non-owners = 33,979). Propensity score was calculated by performing logistic regressions with covariates and data was matched using the nearest-neighbor method. Further, multiple linear regression was performed to analyze this association using the matched data. Additionally, survey-weighted multiple regressions were performed: 1) within pet owners, and 2) after stratifying owners with the number of pets owned. Pet owners in Seoul, South Korea reported higher levels of OLS than non-owners, even after controlling for covariates—age, sex, marital status, family size, family income, job, education, types of housing, housing tenure. Owners with both dogs and cats showed the highest average OLS scores (owners with 2 pets: Mean [M] = 58.05, Standard Deviation [SD] = 0.67; owners with ≥ 3 pets: M = 59.03, SD = 1.02), followed by single pet owners of either a cat (M = 56.64, SD = 0.37) or a dog (M = 56.14, SD = 0.13). Single pet owners reported significantly higher levels of OLS than those with 2 or ≥ 3 pets when pet types were adjusted for. When owners had a single pet, pet types (dog or cat) did not generate a significant difference in OLS scores. Among owners with 2 or ≥ 3 pets, however, owners with both dogs and cats had higher OLS scores than dog owners. This research has significant implications for promoting future study on companion animal effects for improving human health and well-being. Mechanisms of the effect, including cultural factors, should be further investigated.
... Epidemiologic and longitudinal studies also show a positive association between pet ownership and physical health [23,27]. Individuals with companion animals have been shown to have fewer physician visits than those without pets [28]. In a seminal 1980 study, patients with acute coronary heart disease who owned a pet were significantly more likely to be alive a year after hospital discharge than non-pet owners, an effect confirmed in a larger sample of patients with cardiovascular disease in 2011 [29,30]. ...
Article
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The mental and physical human costs of social isolation and loneliness—and their possible amelioration through human–animal interaction (HAI)—have both received intense attention since the onset of the COVID-19 pandemic, and its lockdowns, quarantines, and related mitigation measures. Concern about society’s “loneliness epidemic”, however, predates the pandemic, as does serious inquiry into HAI as a positive intervention. Recognizing the potential of companion animals to make a difference on an important public health issue, the Consortium on Social Isolation and Companion Animals—a novel partnership of the Human Animal Bond Research Institute (HABRI) and Mars Petcare—launched a joint initiative in 2019 to advance HAI research, address barriers to HAI, and support best practices in bringing together animals and people to ease loneliness. Beginning with a first-ever summit of multidisciplinary thought leaders, this collaboration has already yielded actionable insights and research projects. As a novel partnership initiative in the HAI field, it offers a promising model for future cross-disciplinary forward thinking to elevate HAI for the mutual benefit of companion animals and their welfare, as well as vulnerable human populations.
... It has been demonstrated that pet dog owners are healthier than nonowners [2,3]. Pet dogs can help people under stressful conditions in enjoying their recreation and curing some pathological conditions such as high blood pressure [4]. Also, people can own dogs for various reasons such as business, hunting, herding livestock, and guarding. ...
Article
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Canine nematodes pose a public health risk to humans and livestock; however, the prevalence of canine nematodiases in Rwanda is unknown. This study aimed at determining the prevalence of canine nematodiases and identifying the risk factors for such infections in Kigali, the capital city of Rwanda. A cross-sectional study involved 93 dogs selected across Kigali city. Faecal samples were collected from apparently healthy dogs, and nematode eggs were identified and quantified using the McMaster technique. Risk factors for canine nematodiases were analysed by a multivariable binary logistic regression model. The overall prevalence of gastrointestinal (GI) nematodiases in dogs was 33.3% (95% CI: 23.8–42.9). The most prevalent species was Ancylostoma spp with 32.3% (95% CI: 22.8–41.8). Nearly 38.7% and 3.2% of the dogs infected with Ancylostoma spp and Toxocara canis had high egg counts per gram (EPG) of faeces (≥550), respectively. Approximately 96.8% of dogs infected with nematodes had monoinfection. Logistic regression analysis showed that dog’s age (1 to 2.5 years old), location (Gasabo and Kicukiro districts), and feeding practices were significantly associated with prevalence of canine nematodiases. In particular, the adjusted odds ratio (AOR) was more than 5 times higher for dogs fed on uncooked animal products and leftovers from households and restaurants compared to those who ate food prepared for them. The AOR was also about 16 times higher for dogs that scavenged and ate leftovers from households compared to those who ate food prepared for them. The findings of this study indicate that the prevalence of GI nematodes in domestic dogs in Kigali city, Rwanda, was 33.3% (95% CI: 23.8–42.9). The identified nematodes, namely, Ancylostoma spp. and Toxocara canis, are zoonotic, and dogs and humans are at risk of contracting these nematodes. The factors associated with canine GI nematodes in Kigali city include feeding practices and the dog’s age and location (district). Dog owners need to rethink procedures for deworming and feeding their dogs. Again, the public should be made aware of the role of dogs in transmitting zoonotic nematodes to humans. 1. Introduction Dogs play a considerable role in helping humans to improve quality of life [1]. It has been demonstrated that pet dog owners are healthier than nonowners [2, 3]. Pet dogs can help people under stressful conditions in enjoying their recreation and curing some pathological conditions such as high blood pressure [4]. Also, people can own dogs for various reasons such as business, hunting, herding livestock, and guarding. Dogs also offer a variety of services such as helping the disabled live independently and search and rescue missions as well as sniffing drugs and explosive detection [5]. Although dogs have become an indispensable companion, they also constitute a potential source of a variety of human infections [1]. Dogs can harbour parasitic infections, thus transmitted between livestock and humans including helminths and protozoa [6, 7]. Ascarids and Ancylostomatidae have been frequently reported to be the main helminths of dogs and cats with global significance [8]. Dogs contract ancylostomiasis through skin penetration or oral ingestion of infective larvae. Oral infection occurs through ingestion of infected milk or paratenic hosts or while being suckled [9]. Canine toxocariasis can be transmitted via ingestion of faecal material or soil contaminated with viable embryonated eggs, transplacentally, or ingestion of milk from infected dams while being suckled [10]. Humans can contract nematodes through ingesting items contaminated with embryonated eggs or infective larvae. Also, infective larvae can be transmitted through the cutaneous route as well as mosquito bites (e.g., Filariae). Ancylostoma spp that affects dogs can cause cutaneous larva migrans while Toxocara canis can cause visceral larva migrans and ocular larva migrans in humans [11, 12]. Studies conducted around the world reported the prevalence of canine GI nematodiases that varied between 9.5% and 51% [13, 14]. A wide range of factors can influence the prevalence of canine helminthiases including intrinsic factors such as age, sex, and breed or extrinsic ones, for instance, feeding, environment, accuracy of testing, regular deworming, and geographical location [15–19]. The control of canine nematodiases and helminthiases at large consists of proper hygiene, regular preventive deworming, and treatment of clinically ill individuals [20, 21]. However, misuse of anthelminthics may lead to the emergence of resistance to the drugs used for the treatment of animal and human helminthiases [20]. Anthelminthic resistance can primarily be prevented through applying evidence-based treatment, respecting the dosage and adherence to proper management strategies [8]. A study conducted in Egypt found that alkaline pH of soil influenced the occurrence of soil-transmitted helminths (e.g., Toxocara spp and Ancylostomatidae). Soil properties, for instance, temperature, moisture, pH, and organic matter, may influence the prevalence of soil-transmitted helminths [22]. For example, the development of eggs of Ancylostomatidae requires a temperature varying between 20 and 30°C and suitable shade and moisture alongside clay-sandy soil [22, 23]. In Rwanda, soils are naturally fragile and derived from schistose, quartzite, gneissic, granite, and volcanic rocks. Again, the country’s 88% of the soil pH is acidic (pH 3.5-6.5) [24, 25]. Despite the potential importance of canine nematode infections as a one health concern, there are no reports on their infections in Rwanda. Thus, this study aimed at determining the prevalence of GI nematodes in dogs and associated risk factors in Kigali city, Rwanda. 2. Materials and Methods 2.1. Study Sites This study was conducted in Kigali city, Rwanda, from September 2016 to March 2017. In Rwanda, the climate is tropical, and the country has four climatic zones, including the central plateau, where Kigali city is situated [24]. The plateau has an annual rainfall and a temperature ranging from 1,100 to 1,300 mm and 18 to 20°C, respectively [24]. One report showed that the relative humidity in Kigali ranges between 61% and 85% in August and April, respectively [26]. In the suburb of Kigali, soils are hill ferro and valley histosoil types. Much of the soil across Kigali is also acidic [25]. Administratively, Kigali city is subdivided into three districts, and each district is in turn subdivided into administrative sectors [27]. The present study covered nine sectors that were selected from the three districts of Kigali city; each district was represented by three sectors. Figure 1 shows the map of Kigali city with district and sector level boundaries.
... Companion animals play important roles in peoples' lives and impact their physical and psychological health. Studies have shown that people who own pets are healthier than non-pet owners or people who cease to own a pet (Siegel, 1993, McHarg et al., 1995, Headey et al., 2002, Headey and Grabka, 2007. The improved health of pet owners was estimated to save the Australian government $3.86 billion annually on public health expenditure (Headey et al., 2002). ...
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Ticks are vectors of pathogens affecting companion animals and can cause tick paralysis, anaemia, dermatitis, and secondary infections. In Australia, there is currently only one known tick-borne pathogen of companion animals. Babesia canis vogeli is transmitted by Rhipicephalus sanguineus sensu lato (s.l.) (brown dog tick). This tick species is a potential vector of Babesia gibsoni and Anaplasma platys, which are putative tick-borne pathogens that require vector transmission studies. The lack of recognised tick-borne pathogens in Australia is likely due to the lack of research on pathogenic viruses, bacteria, and protozoa in Australian ticks. Twenty ixodid (hard tick) species have previously been recorded on dogs, cats, and horses in Australia, including Rhi. sanguineus s.l., Ixodes holocyclus (eastern paralysis tick), and Haemaphysalis longicornis (the common name in Australia is bush tick and the common name in Asia is Asian longhorned tick), which are known and putative vectors of tick-borne pathogens. Since there have been few tick surveys in Australia since the mid-twentieth century, a nationwide survey of ixodids (Acari: Ixodidae) was conducted to identify tick species that parasitise dogs, cats, and horses. Ticks were morphologically examined to determine species, instar, and sex, and the collection locations of the different tick species were mapped using QGIS software. The companion animal owners responded to questionnaires and descriptive statistics were summarised. A total of 4,765 ticks were identified from 7/8 states and territories in Australia. Overall, 220 larvae, 805 nymphs, 1,404 males, and 2,336 females of 11 tick species were identified from 837 companion animal hosts. One novel host record was obtained for Ixodes myrmecobii, which was found on Felis catus (domestic cat) in the town of Esperance, Western Australia. The most common tick species identified included Rhi. sanguineus s.l. on dogs (73%), I. holocyclus on cats (81%), and Haem. longicornis on horses (60%). However, some ticks that were excluded from the study in Chapter 2, Subsection 2.2, could not be identified based on morphology alone. Sanger sequencing of the cytochrome c oxidase subunit 1 gene (COI) was performed to confirm their species identity. The species identified included three Ixodes trichosuri nymphs, three Haemaphysalis sp. genotype 1 and one Haemaphysalis sp. genotype 2 (potentially novel species), and Haemaphysalis lagostrophi. Since little is known about bacteria and apicomplexan parasites in Australian ticks, genomic DNA was extracted from a subset of the ticks collected from dogs, cats, and horses (n = 711) for microbial identification. All 711 tick extracts were screened for apicomplexans at the 18S rRNA gene (18S) with conventional PCR (cnPCR) and Sanger sequencing, and n = 655 tick extracts were screened for bacteria with cnPCR and amplicon next-generation sequencing (NGS). For the amplicon NGS screening, the aim was to detect bacterial pathogens, tick-associated bacteria with unknown pathogenicity (including endosymbionts), and novel species. Therefore, the 16S rRNA gene (16S) was targeted with cnPCR for amplicon NGS. Hypervariable regions V1-2 of 16S were sequenced on the MiSeq (Illumina) platform. Reads were processed using USEARCH v10.0 and denoised into zero-radius operational taxonomic units (ZOTUs). Taxonomic assignments were made using the QIIME2 feature classifier and the Greengenes, RDP Classifier, and SILVA 16S databases, and taxonomic assignments were cross-checked against the National Center for Biotechnology Information (NCBI) non-redundant nucleotide (nr/nt) database with the BLAST® command line tool. Dominant and prevalent bacterial species included “Candidatus Midichloria spp.”, Coxiella massiliensis, Coxiella spp., and Rickettsia spp. Tick-associated and haemotropic pathogens included An. platys and “Ca. Mycoplasma haematoparvum” in Rhi. sanguineus s.l. (6.9% and 0.6% of n = 174, respectively), and Bartonella clarridgeiae and Coxiella burnetii in I. holocyclus (0.3% (1/334) for both pathogens). The prevalence of “Ca. Neoehrlichia australis” in I. holocyclus (8.4%, 28/334) was significantly higher than the prevalence of “Ca. Neoehrlichia arcana” in I. holocyclus (2.1%, 7/334) (2 = 13.3, p < 0.0005). The bacterial diversity metrics differed for tick species, ecoregions, instars, and host species, but there was a lack of statistical support for feeding status for most tick species. Inconsistencies in taxonomic assignments across Greengenes, RDP Classifier, and SILVA highlights the need for validation of taxa with more comprehensive databases such as NCBI nr/nt. Future studies on tick microbiomes that use amplicon NGS would benefit from curated and quality-checked custom-built databases. As Rickettsia species could only be identified to the genus level with 16S NGS, Rickettsia-specific NGS was used for rickettsial species identification. The citrate synthase gene (gltA) assay enabled the identification of “Ca. Rickettsia tasmanensis” in Ixodes tasmani, a co-infection of “Ca. Ri. tasmanensis” and “Ca. Rickettsia antechini” in I. tasmani, “Ca. Rickettsia jingxinensis” in Haemaphysalis spp., Rickettsia gravesii in Amblyomma triguttatum triguttatum and I. holocyclus, and four Amb. t. triguttatum were co-infected with novel Rickettsia genotypes that were most similar (97.9-99.1%) to Rickettsia raoultii and Ri. gravesii. Phylogenetic analysis of near-full length 16S of Francisella and Legionellales species obtained by Sanger sequencing of 16S confirmed that the ZOTUs identified with 16S NGS included a novel Coxiellaceae genus and species in I. tasmani, two novel Francisella species in Amb. t. triguttatum, and two novel Francisella genotypes in Haemaphysalis spp. For the Apicomplexa screening, the aim was to determine the identity and prevalence of these organisms in the 711 tick extracts from dogs, cats, and horses. The ticks were screened for apicomplexan parasites using cnPCR and Sanger sequencing. First, a short region of the 18S rRNA gene (18S) was targeted for more sensitive cnPCR screening, then a longer region (>1 kb) of 18S was sequenced for species confirmation. The tick-borne pathogen Bab. c. vogeli was identified in two Rhi. sanguineus s.l. from dogs in the Northern Territory and Queensland (QLD). Theileria orientalis genotype Ikeda was confirmed by sequencing the major piroplasm surface protein gene p32, and was detected in three Haem. longicornis from dogs in New South Wales. Eight novel piroplasm and Hepatozoon species were identified and described and named as follows: Babesia lohae n. sp., Babesia mackerrasorum n. sp., Hepatozoon banethi n. sp., Hepatozoon ewingi n. sp., Theileria apogeana n. sp., Theileria palmeri n. sp., Theileria paparinii n. sp., and Theileria worthingtonorum n. sp. Additionally, a novel cf. Sarcocystidae gen. sp. sequence was obtained from I. tasmani, but could not be confidently identified at the genus level. An exotic tick-borne pathogen, Hepatozoon canis, was identified in I. holocyclus from a dog in QLD. The dog was located, and a blood sample was collected for Hep. canis screening. Hepatozoon canis gamonts were identified by blood smear examination, 18S sequencing, and phylogenetic analysis, which confirmed that the dog was infected with the parasite. This is the first published report of Hep. canis in Australia.
... Although free-roaming dogs can exert a suite of adverse effects on people and wildlife, companion animal dogs have been shown to enhance human mental, emotional, and physical health (Wells 2007;Dotson and Hyatt 2008;Stanley 2009;Hodgson and Darling 2011;McCardle et al. 2011;Beetz et al. 2012;Takashima and Day 2014;Casciotti and Zuckerman 2016; but see Herzog 2011Herzog , 2020Rodriguez et al. 2020). To name a few of the myriad benefits of the so-called "pet effect," dog owners and people with frequent canine contact have lower stress levels (Nagengast et al. 1997;Aydin et al. 2012;Barker et al. 2012;Tournier et al. 2017), reduced risk of heart disease (Allen et al. 2002;Levine et al. 2013;Schreiner 2016), lower blood pressure (Allen et al. 2001;Wright et al. 2007) and cholesterol levels (Hodgson et al. 2015), strengthened immune systems (Gern et al. 2004;Wegienka et al. 2011;Schreiner 2016), make fewer annual doctor visits (Headey and Grabka 2007), take fewer sick days off from work (Headey et al. 2008), enjoy improved workplace wellness and productivity (Wells and Perrine 2001;Wilkin et al. 2016), experience improved social connections (McNicholas and Collis 2000; Wood et al. 2015) and support (McConnell et al. 2011;Brooks et al. 2016Brooks et al. , 2018, and decreased levels of loneliness (Antonacopoulos 2017) and depression (Crowley-Robinson et al. 1996;Clark Cline 2010). One study conservatively estimated the annual American healthcare cost savings associated with pet ownership (i.e., quantified as fewer medical office visits by pet owners and reduced incidence of obesity among dog owners who frequently walk their pets) at over $11.7 billion (Clower and Neaves 2015). ...
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Synopsis Dogs (Canis familiaris) were the first domesticated species and, at an estimated population of 1 billion individuals, are globally ubiquitous today. Describing the tremendous morphometric diversity and evolutionary origins of dogs is a scientific endeavor that predates Darwin, yet our interdisciplinary understanding of the species is just beginning. Here, I present global trends in dog abundance, activity, and health. While the human–dog relationship has for millennia been close, it is also complicated. As pets, companion dogs are often treated as family members and constitute the largest sector of the ever-growing >$200 billion USD global pet care industry. As pests, free-roaming dogs are an emerging threat to native species via both predation and nonconsumptive effects (e.g., disturbance, competition for resources, and hybridization). Furthermore, I briefly discuss mounting evidence of dogs as not only infectious disease reservoirs but also as bridges for the transmission of pathogens between wild animals and humans in zoonotic spillover events, triggering intensive dog population management strategies such as culling. Dog mobility across the urban-wildland interface is an important driver for this and other adverse effects of canines on wildlife populations and is an active topic of disease ecologists and conservation biologists. Other canine scientists, including veterinary clinicians and physiologists, study more mechanistic aspects of dog mobility: the comparative kinetics, kinematics, and energetics of dog locomotor health. I outline the prevalent methodological approaches and breed-specific findings within dog activity and health research, then conclude by recognizing promising technologies that are bridging disciplinary gaps in canine science.
... Many people report that their pets provide comfort during challenging periods of their lives, such as when facing interpersonal difficulties, the death of a loved one, or the loss of a job (Risley-Curtiss et al., 2006;Walsh, 2009). Furthermore, individuals who keep pets are likely to have improved physiological and mental health compared to those without pets (Friedmann & Tsai, 2006;Headey & Grabka, 2007;Virues-Ortega & Buela-Casals, 2006). Dogs, in particular, have been found to reduce loneliness (Powell et al., 2019). ...
Article
Pets are often regarded as family members in US households, but are rarely examined as a source of support for individuals who are suicidal. As suicide rates increase, all potential protective factors must be explored. The attachment bond between pets and their owners is akin to that of bonds with other humans, as pets provide unconditional love and emotional support when owners experience distress. This qualitative study sought to discover and describe how adults perceive their pets when suicidal. Participants (n = 71; ages 18–49 years old) with recent experiences of suicidal thoughts or behaviors were recruited from mental health forums on a social media website, Reddit. Participants responded to an anonymous, open-ended survey about the role of their pets during a recent experience of suicidal thoughts or behaviors. A thematic analysis was conducted following the coding of responses. Three organizing themes, describing the roles of pets during the suicidal period, were identified: Protective Influence, No Role, and Risk Factor. Pets that provided a protective influence against the suicidality did so by providing comfort, a distraction, or a reason to live to their owners. Pets that were not present or did not influence their owners while suicidal were classified as no role. Finally, pets were regarded as a risk factor when they caused stress to their owners; health and behavioral problems were both cited as exacerbating the suicidality. These findings indicate the importance of assessing the role of pets in suicidal individuals’ lives. These results provide implications for the consideration of pets in suicide prevention and intervention efforts.
... The benefits to a person's physical well-being as the result of having pets, especially dogs, is associated with greater mobility through a exercise, such as going for walks and doing outdoor activities (Curl et al., 2017). Headey and Grabka (2007) concluded that pet owners are healthier than people who stop having a pet or have never had one. According to the authors, pet owners make fewer medical visits than nonowners; these results remained significant after controlling for variables which have traditionally been related to medical visits, for example, marital status, income, and age. ...
Article
In this study, we aimed to identify possible significant differences in the socioemotional development of children who live with dogs in their daily lives, compared with children who do not have this type of contact, and to determine the extent to which these differences are associated with sex. We studied a sample of 120 children (53.3% girls) aged between three and five years old comprising two intact groups (dog and non-dog) from two public (state) schools and one private school. These two groups were balanced in terms of sample size (n = 60 each group) and participant age. The data were collected using the personal-social domain of the Battelle Developmental Inventory, which assesses adult interaction, expression of feelings and affections, self-image, peer interaction, cooperation, and social role. A factorial multivariate analysis of variance test was conducted to identify any differences in the children’s socioemotional development based on sex or their contact with dogs. We found that contact with dogs had a significant association with socialization in both boys and girls and that the differences between the two groups (dog and non�dog) were of a large magnitude. In fact, the group that had contact with dogs obtained significantly higher average scores in all subdomains corresponding to the personal-social domain of the Battelle Developmental Inventory, as expected. Our results show that contact with dogs at home during early childhood is related to more advanced social development in both boys and girls, which is consistent with the findings of other studies. However, more research is needed to clarify which other factors (e.g., individual or family-related or socioeconomic) may be involved in the benefits of having a dog during childhood.
Chapter
The potential association between companion animal guardianship and human health has become a hot topic not only among researchers but also the media and the general public. Has research reached such a point to elevate these animals to the status of “clinical allies”? This chapter aims at providing an objective assessment of the literature allowing the reader to appreciate the distance between current understanding of the effects of companion animals on human health and its application in health promotion and healthcare. It is divided into two main sections. In the first section, evidence suggesting that companion animals may have a positive impact on human health is presented, followed by opposite findings. In the second section, attention is called upon the need for a comprehensive research approach (integrating confounding, mediating, and moderating variables) before we may attribute a “clinical role” to our companion animals.
Article
Introduction: People can be rejected by friends, strangers, hated outgroups, or computer simulations. The present research examines whether people can be rejected by pets. Methods: Two studies examined whether people can feel rejected by pets and how this affects their mood, fundamental needs, and aggression. Participants in Study 1 were directly rejected by a pet using an adapted version of the video message paradigm, and then reported on their mood, fundamental needs, and aggression. Study 2 directly compared differences in needs when writing about a rejection experience by a pet, a rejection experience by a person, and a control experience. Results: Study 1 confirmed that people can feel rejected by their pets by demonstrating that those who were rejected felt more negatively and less positively and had decreased need satisfaction, however they did not experience any changes in their aggression. Finally, in Study 2, people who were rejected by a pet or by a person experienced decreased need satisfaction as compared to a control experience. Discussion: Ultimately, these studies confirm pets can be perpetrators of rejection and such rejection hurts similarly to if a human perpetrated it. This may add to the growing body of research suggesting that pets do not provide uniformly positive effects on people.
Chapter
The last century and the beginning of the current one have seen an increase in the number of elderly people in society. Ageing is generally associated with an increase in dependency, multimorbidity and social isolation, but old people with a healthy ageing process are able to fully operate in society, by being important contributors to several processes and serving as mentors to the younger generation. Does owning a pet have any advantage for an elderly individual? Pets are helpful in terms of social, emotional, cognitive and motor capacities of their elderly owners, but they also can be a source of trouble. The benefits and hazards of having a pet for an elderly population are reviewed in the light of the more frequent neurological changes presented after 65 years of age. In spite of some very interesting studies about pet ownership in the elderly, there are still several questions to be answered. Pet ownership can be, together with changes in mentality and changes in political and social issues, a positive factor for a healthy ageing process in the elderly, as can be seen when we review and evaluate data obtained in various studies, so far.
Book
This book provides an up-to-date overview of the current knowledge and research concerning domestic pets as sentinels, forecasters and promoters of human health. Written by leading specialists in the fields of medicine, veterinary, environment, analytical chemistry, sociology and behavioral science, this volume provides a comprehensive understanding of the capabilities of pets in what regards to human health. The first seven chapters are devoted to the use of pets as sentinels for their human companions, in terms of exposure to different classes of environmental chemicals. The following five chapters address the use of pets as models for human diseases and promoters of human health. The final two chapters highlight the psycho-social and psychophysiological aspects of human-animal interactions. The book offers an integrated approach to the One Health concept, providing, in a truly holistic manner, tools to assess the equilibrium between the environment, men and animals. This exercise will highlight and reshape our position towards the planet that despite being “a microscopic dot on a microscopic dot lost in the unimaginable infinity of the Universe” is still our own. At the end of the day, pets will always be there to help us.
Article
Objective: To investigate the longitudinal association between pet ownership and children's social-emotional development. Study design: Two time-points of data from the Longitudinal Study of Australian Children were analyzed for children at ages 5 (n = 4242) and 7 (n = 4431) years. The Strengths and Difficulties Questionnaire (SDQ) measured children's social-emotional development. Pet ownership status and type (dog, cat, other) as well as sociodemographic and other potential confounders were collected. Longitudinal panel regression models were used. Results: Overall, 27% of children had abnormal scores on 1 or more SDQ scales. By age 7, 75% of children had pets with ownership highest in single-child households. Owning any type of pet was associated with decreased odds of abnormal scores for emotional symptoms (OR, 0.81; 95% CI, 0.67-0.99), peer problems (OR, 0.71; 95% CI, 0.60-0.84), and prosocial behavior (OR, 0.70; 95% CI, 0.38-0.70), compared with non-pet owners. Dog ownership was associated with decreased odds of abnormal scores on any of the SDQ scales (OR, 0.81; 95% CI, 0.71-0.93). For children without any siblings, only the prosocial behavior scale was significantly associated with pet ownership (OR, 0.21; 95% CI, 0.07-0.66). In longitudinal models, cat-only and dog-only groups were associated with fewer emotional symptoms and peer problems compared with non-pet owners. Conclusions: Early school age is an important period for family pet acquisition. Pets may protect children from developing social-emotional problems and should be taken into account when assessing child development and school readiness. Children without siblings may benefit most in terms of their prosocial behavior.
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Chronic pain is a significant cause of morbidity and disability globally. One potential strategy for the self-management of chronic pain is interacting with companion animals; more specifically, dogs. While studies of dog ownership suggest social, psychological, and health benefits to humans, the impact on chronic pain is unclear. The aim of this scoping review was to map the literature on dog ownership and wellbeing in people with chronic pain. This review followed the PRISMA-ScR (Preferred Reporting Items for Systematic reviews and Meta-Analyses extension for Scoping Reviews) reporting guidelines. Twelve electronic databases and grey literature sources were searched for studies that included adults with chronic pain living with a dog. From 6,724 records, eight studies were included in the synthesis, including six cross-sectional survey studies and two qualitative studies. Studies specifically looking at pain provided mixed results, but people living with a dog reported better mental health. The health benefits related to social support for people living with a dog were reported as positive across several studies. Low-quality studies and variability in outcome measures limited comparisons across studies. The results of these eight studies suggest that the relationship between dog ownership and chronic pain is inconclusive and complex. Living with a dog for people who have chronic pain appears to provide positive benefits for some populations. Six studies were published after 2013 suggesting this important area of enquiry may be emerging as a new field in the study of the human– animal bond. Further research using qualitative, mixed methods, and longitudinal designs are needed to understand the potential mechanisms involved.
Presentation
Seminars at Silver, New York University, Silver School of Social Work
Article
Objectives: Describe the emotional support animal (ESA) experience of college students detailing the process of obtaining an ESA, as well as the benefits and obstacles. Participants: Nine students who had an ESA at college provided preliminary information while an additional four offered insights into their COVID experience with their ESA. Archived records from the Accessibility Resource Center added detail on the ESA process. Methods: This mixed-method study included qualitative interviews (9 students prior to COVID and 4 during COVID) as well as a quantitative analysis of archived data. Thematic analysis was used to extract themes from the interviews. Archived data were analyzed for frequency of select topics. Results: Four positive themes (presence of animal, empowerment, symptom alleviation, and social catalyst) and three negative themes (housing accommodations, lack of ESA education on campus, and social consequences) were extracted from initial interview responses. Analysis of COVID interviews also revealed positive and negative themes with many similar to the pre-COVID responses but also included unique themes reflective of the restrictions imposed by the pandemic. Archived data revealed a substantial increase in the number of ESAs on campus, a wide range of species, and an array of complaints such as safety concerns, ESA behavior, ESA cleanliness, and ESA in unauthorized areas. Conclusions: Overall, the college ESA experience appears beneficial, facilitating the adjustment to college for students with mental health concerns. However, there are drawbacks. Knowledge of obstacles and concerns will help ease the ESA process for all constituents.
Chapter
Research on the relationship between human animal interaction (HAI) and health and well-being over the life course typically focuses on specific age groups. This is particularly the case in the United States where HAI measures have not historically been included in longitudinal studies. We present a brief overview of the role of companion animals in healthy development and aging over the life course and evidence of how HAI may affect those processes. Limitations of research on HAI and health to date are discussed with a focus on the need to include measures of pet ownership and attachment in population representative samples to facilitate secondary analysis. Several population-representative data resources that can be used to study HAI across the life course in the United States are described: the Panel Study of Income Dynamics Child Development Supplement, the Early Childhood Longitudinal Study—Kindergarten Cohort, the General Social Survey, and the Health and Retirement Study. Opportunities for researchers to contribute to the growing multidisciplinary field of HAI research are discussed.
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During two retreats in 2017 and 2020, a group of international scientists convened to explore the Human-Animal Bond. The meetings, hosted by the Wallis Annenberg PetSpace Leadership Institute, took a broad view of the human-dog relationship and how interactions between the two may benefit us medically, psychologically or through their service as working dogs (e.g. guide dogs, explosive detection, search and rescue, cancer detection). This Frontiers’ Special Topic has collated the presentations into a broad collection of 14 theoretical and review papers summarizing the latest research and practice in the historical development of our deepening bond with dogs, the physiological and psychological changes that occur during human-dog interactions (to both humans and dogs) as well as the selection, training and welfare of companion animals and working dogs. The overarching goals of this collection are to contribute to the current standard of understanding of human-animal interaction, suggest future directions in applied research, and to consider the interdisciplinary societal implications of the findings.
Article
Given the high prevalence and severe consequences of childhood sexual abuse, it is essential to identify ways to support adult survivors. One potential and relatively unexplored resource available to survivors is the human-pet relationship. In the literature, the human-pet relationship is linked to many positive benefits to physiological regulation, mental health, physical health, and social support – areas of functioning where survivors of childhood sexual abuse may be particularly at risk. Despite existing evidence, there is little research on human-pet relationships among survivors of childhood sexual abuse. To help address this gap, this qualitative study explored the lived experience of human-pet relationships among adult survivors of childhood sexual abuse. Utilizing data collection and analysis methods from Interpretative Phenomenological Analysis, semi-structured interviews were conducted with 10 adult survivors of childhood sexual abuse. The following themes were developed from the data: (a) close bond with pet; (b) idiosyncrasies within the human-pet relationship; (c) moral responsibility; (d) fundamental differences between pets and humans; (e) safety in the human-pet relationship; (f) resource for coping with painful experience; (g) positive impact on well-being; (h) buttress for human-human social interaction; (i) medium for skill and knowledge development; and (j) shortcomings of the human-pet relationship. Findings are discussed in the context of the existing literature, along with considerations for practice and future research with childhood sexual abuse survivors.
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A 10-month prospective study was carried out which examined changes in behaviour and health status in 71 adult subjects following the acquisition of a new pet (either dogs or cats). A group of 26 subjects without pets served as a comparison over the same period. Both pet-owning groups reported a highly significant reduction in minor health problems during the first month following pet acquisition, and this effect was sustained in dog owners through to 10 months. The pet-acquiring groups also showed improvements in their scores on the 30-item General Health Questionnaire over the first 6 months and, in dog owners, this improvement was maintained until 10 months. In addition, dog owners took considerably more physical exercise while walking their dogs than the other two groups, and this effect continued throughout the period of study. The group without pets exhibited no statistically significant changes in health or behaviour, apart from a small increase in recreational walking. The results provide evidence that pet acquisition may have positive effects on human health and behaviour, and that in some cases these effects are relatively long term.
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The propensity score is the conditional probability of assignment to a particular treatment given a vector of observed covariates. Both large and small sample theory show that adjustment for the scalar propensity score is sufficient to remove bias due to all observed covariates. Applications include: (i) matched sampling on the univariate propensity score, which is a generalization of discriminant matching, (ii) multivariate adjustment by subclassification on the propensity score where the same subclasses are used to estimate treatment effects for all outcome variables and in all subpopulations, and (iii) visual representation of multivariate covariance adjustment by a two- dimensional plot.
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For over a century, empirical research in the social sciences was based not on data collected by researchers—as is the case in the natural sciences—but on official statistical data. Sociologists and economists in particular thus relied on the statistical tables provided by federal agencies for their analyses. Beginning in the 1960s, however, and in many countries even later, social scientists began to obtain limited access to statistical agencies' microdata on private households and individuals (and later on firms as well). When working with these new data, social scientists concentrated on "objective" variables such as occupational status and income. Longitudinal analysis in the social sciences was impossible although many theories and models dealt with the life course. Today it is more apparent than ever that longitudinal analysis is crucial — not only to test life course models, but also as a basis for establishing the causes of social phenomena and evaluating public policy programs. Over the last two decades, many statistical agencies have significantly changed the kind of data they provide in order to meet this demand. Some have even responded by vastly increasing their research capacities. StatCan is one example of this evolution in official statistics: its SLID survey now comprises statistics that not only describe but also can be used to explain the causes and effects of social change.
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A 10-month prospective study was carried out which examined changes in behaviour and health status in 71 adult subjects following the acquisition of a new pet (either dogs or cats). A group of 26 subjects without pets served as a comparison over the same period. Both pet-owning groups reported a highly significant reduction in minor health problems during the first month following pet acquisition, and this effect was sustained in dog owners through to 10 months. The pet-acquiring groups also showed improvements in their scores on the 30-item General Health Questionnaire over the first 6 months and, in dog owners, this improvement was maintained until 10 months. In addition, dog owners took considerably more physical exercise while walking their dogs than the other two groups, and this effect continued throughout the period of study. The group without pets exhibited no statistically significant changes in health or behaviour, apart from a small increase in recreational walking. The results provide evidence that pet acquisition may have positive effects on human health and behaviour, and that in some cases these effects are relatively long term.
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Autonomic responses were measured while 45 adult women performed a standard experimental stress task in the laboratory with only the experimenter present and 2 weeks later at home in the presence of a female friend, pet dog, or neither. Results demonstrated that autonomic reactivity was moderated by the presence of a companion, the nature of whom was critical to the size and direction of the effect. Ss in the friend condition exhibited higher physiological reactivity and poorer performance than subjects in the control and pet conditions. Ss in the pet condition showed less physiological reactivity during stressful tasks than Ss in the other conditions. The results are interpreted in terms of the degree to which friends and pets are perceived as evaluative during stressful task performance. Physiological reactivity was consistent across the laboratory and field settings.
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The findings of this study confirm the independent importance of social factors in the determination of health status. Social data obtained during patients' hospitalization can be valuable in discriminating 1-year survivors. These social data can add to the prognostic discrimination beyond the effects of the well-known physiological predictors. More information is needed about all forms of human companionship and disease. Thus, it is important that future investigations of prognosis in various disease states include measures of the patient's social and psychological status with measures of disease severity. The phenomenon of pet ownership and the potential value of pets as a source of companionship activity or attention deserved more careful attention that that recorded in the literature. Almost half of the homes in the United States have some kind of pet. Yet, to our knowledge, no previous studies have included pet ownership among the social variables examined to explain disease distribution. Little cost is incurred by the inclusion of pet ownership in such studies, and it is certainly by the importance of pets in the lives of people today and the long history of association between human beings and companion animals. The existence of pets as important household members should be considered by those who are responsible for medical treatment. The need to care for a pet or to arrange for its care may delay hospitalization; it may also be a source of concern for patients who are hospitalized. Recognition of this concern by physicians, nurses, and social workers may alleviate emotional stress among such patients. The therapeutic uses of pets have been considered for patients hospitalized with mental illnesses and the elderly. The authors suggest that patients with coronary heart disease should also be included in this consideration. Large numbers of older patients with coronary heart disease are socially isolated and lonely. While it is not yet possible to conclude that pet ownership is beneficial to these patients, pets are an easily attainable source of psychological comfort with relatively few risks.
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In the present study, we evaluated the effect of a nonevaluative social support intervention (pet ownership) on blood pressure response to mental stress before and during ACE inhibitor therapy. Forty-eight hypertensive individuals participated in an experiment at home and in the physician's office. Participants were randomized to an experimental group with assignment of pet ownership in addition to lisinopril (20 mg/d) or to a control group with only lisinopril (20 mg/d). On each study day, blood pressure, heart rate, and plasma renin activity were recorded at baseline and after each mental stressor (serial subtraction and speech). Before drug therapy, mean responses to mental stress did not differ significantly between experimental and control groups in heart rate (94 [SD 6.8] versus 93 [6.8] bpm), systolic blood pressure (182 [8.0] versus 181 [8.3] mm Hg), diastolic blood pressure (120 [6.6] versus 119 [7.9] mm Hg), or plasma renin activity (9.4 [0.59] versus 9.3 [0.57] ng. mL(-1). h(-1)). Lisinopril therapy lowered resting blood pressure by approximately 35/20 mm Hg in both groups, but responses to mental stress were significantly lower among pet owners relative to those who only received lisinopril (P<0.0001; heart rate 81 [6.3] versus 91 [6.5] bpm, systolic blood pressure 131 [6.8] versus 141 [7.8] mm Hg, diastolic blood pressure 92 [6.3] versus 100 [6.8] mm Hg, and plasma renin activity 13.9 [0.92] versus 16.1 [0.58] ng. mL(-1). h(-1)). We conclude that ACE inhibitor therapy alone lowers resting blood pressure, whereas increased social support through pet ownership lowers blood pressure response to mental stress.
Article
Research on the extent to which humans derive health and social benefits from being with pets has produced inconsistent findings. We examined whether middle-aged adults who owned or cared for pets differed in mental or physical health or in use of general practitioner services. We obtained socio-demographic data and measures of mental and physical health from a random sample of 2,530 adults aged 40 to 44 years living in the community. For 1844 of these participants, we also obtained records on the numbers of general practitioner visits they had made over a 12-month period. Compared with those without pets, pet owners were more likely to be female, married or in a de facto relationship, and in the workforce. Measures of physical and mental health, including use of general practitioner services, were not significantly affected by pet ownership and caring. However, we found that those who owned or cared for a pet used pain relief medications more frequently. We conclude that neither pet ownership nor caring for pets confers any health benefit in this age group. Our findings call into question the generalizability of previous studies that have suggested that higher levels of pet ownership could result in reduced health care expenditure.
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Experimental group members watched a fish aquarium or a fish videotape, while control group members viewed a placebo videotape. Three eight-minute treatment sessions were held one week apart. Members of all three groups perceived their treatments as relaxing. Aquarium observers tended to experience a decrease in pulse rate and muscle tension and an increase in skin temperature. Theoretical and practical implications of the results and ideas for further research are discussed.
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Contact with companion animals has been hypothesized to enhance the quality of life of their human partners. A search of the scientific literature between 1990 and 1995 uncovered 25 English-language empirical studies addressing this issue. Using the social support paradigm derived from the human well-being literature, the 25 studies are examined according to types of support offered, types of models tested, and types of well-being affected. In addition, studies are analyzed by types of research design employed. The review concludes that although research progress continues to be slow in this area, findings of quality of life benefits derived from companion animal contact are consistent with the research reported in the literature on human social support. These benefits are evident on the psychological, physical, social, and behavioral levels. The quality of life benefits of pet association, however, are apparent only in certain situations and under certain circumstances. (PsycINFO Database Record (c) 2012 APA, all rights reserved)
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This paper reports results from a ‘natural experiment’ taking place in China on the impact of dogs on owners’ health. Previous Western research has reported modest health benefits, but results have remained controversial. In China pets were banned in urban areas until 1992. Since then dog ownership has grown quite rapidly in the major cities, especially among younger women. In these quasi-experimental conditions, we hypothesise that dog ownership will show greater health benefits than in the West. Results are given from a survey of women aged 25–40 in Beijing, Shanghai and Guangzhou (N=3031). Half the respondents owned dogs and half did not. Owners reported better health-related outcomes. They exercised more frequently, slept better, had higher self-reported fitness and health, took fewer days off sick from work and were seen less by doctors. The concluding section indicates how these results may be integrated and suggests further research on the potential economic benefits of pets.
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American, Australian and British studies have shown that pet dogs and cats confer health benefits on their owners. This paper reports results from the first national survey (N = 1011) estimating the magnitude of these benefits. The survey showed that dog and cat owners make fewer annual doctor visits and are less likely to be on medication for heart problems and sleeping difficulties than non-owners. An important public policy implication is that pet ownership probably reduces national health expenditure. By linking sample survey results to data on health expenditure, the paper proposes a method of estimating savings. A preliminary estimate of savings of $988 million is given for Australia for financial year 1994--95.
Article
The propensity score is the conditional probability of assignment to a particular treatment given a vector of observed covariates. Both large and small sample theory show that adjustment for the scalar propensity score is sufficient to remove bias due to all observed covariates. Applications include: (i) matched sampling on the univariate propensity score, which is a generalization of discriminant matching, (ii) multivariate adjustment by subclassification on the propensity score where the same subclasses are used to estimate treatment effects for all outcome variables and in all subpopulations, and (iii) visual representation of multivariate covariance adjustment by a two-dimensional plot.
Conference Paper
Video-based media spaces are designed to support casual interaction between intimate collaborators. Yet transmitting video is fraught with privacy concerns. Some researchers suggest that the video stream be filtered to mask out potentially sensitive ...
Article
To compare risk factors for cardiovascular disease in pet owners and non-owners. Accepted risk factors for cardiovascular disease were measured in 5741 participants attending a free, screening clinic at the Baker Medical Research Institute in Melbourne. Blood pressure, plasma cholesterol and triglyceride values were compared in pet owners (n = 784) and non-owners (n = 4957). Pet owners had significantly lower systolic blood pressure and plasma triglycerides than non-owners. In men, pet owners had significantly lower systolic but not diastolic blood pressure than non-owners, and significantly lower plasma triglyceride levels, and plasma cholesterol levels. In women over 40 years old, systolic but not diastolic pressure was significantly lower in pet owners and plasma triglycerides also tended to be lower. There were no differences in body mass index and self-reported smoking habits were similar, but pet owners reported that they took significantly more exercise than non-owners, and ate more meat and "take-away" foods. The socioeconomic profile of the pet owners and non-owners appeared to be comparable. Pet owners in our clinic population had lower levels of accepted risk factors for cardiovascular disease, and this was not explicable on the basis of cigarette smoking, diet, body mass index or socioeconomic profile. The possibility that pet ownership reduces cardiovascular risk factors should therefore be investigated.
Article
The physician utilization behavior of 938 Medicare enrollees in a health maintenance organization was prospectively followed for 1 year. With demographic characteristics and health status at baseline controlled for, respondents who owned pets reported fewer doctor contacts over the 1-year period than respondents who did not own pets. Furthermore, pets seemed to help their owners in times of stress. The accumulation of prebaseline stressful life events was associated with increased doctor contacts during the study year for respondents without pets. This relationship did not emerge for pet owners. Owners of dogs, in particular, were buffered from the impact of stressful life events on physician utilization. Additional analyses showed that dog owners in comparison to owners of other pets spent more time with their pets and felt that their pets were more important to them. Thus, dogs more than other pets provided their owners with companionship and an object of attachment.
Article
This comparative retrospective study measured selected health-related effects of association with companion-animals on humans, associations that had previously been supported only by folklore. The sample consisted of 56 predominantly elderly veterans, randomly selected from two strata - clients who did and did not live with pets - that comprised the census of a home care program. No significant difference (p≥.05) were observed. Results provide direction for further research.
Article
Social support and pet ownership, a nonhuman form of social support, have both been associated with increased coronary artery disease survival. The independent effects of pet ownership, social support, disease severity, and other psychosocial factors on 1-year survival after acute myocardial infarction are examined prospectively. The Cardiac Arrhythmia Suppression Trial provided physiologic data on a group of post-myocardial infarction patients with asymptomatic ventricular arrhythmias. An ancillary study provided psychosocial data, including pet ownership, social support, recent life events, future life events, anxiety, depression, coronary prone behavior, and expression of anger. Subjects (n = 424) were randomly selected from patients attending participating Cardiac Arrhythmia Suppression Trial sites and completed baseline psychosocial questionnaires. One year survival data were obtained from 369 patients (87%), of whom 112 (30.4%) owned pets and 20 (5.4%) died. Logistic regression indicates that high social support (p < 0.068) and owning a pet (p = 0.085) tend to predict survival independent of physiologic severity and demographic and other psychosocial factors. Dog owners (n = 87, 1 died) are significantly less likely to die within 1 year than those who did not own dogs (n = 282, 19 died; p < 0.05); amount of social support is also an independent predictor of survival (p = 0.065). Both pet ownership and social support are significant predictors of survival, independent of the effects of the other psychosocial factors and physiologic status. These data confirm and extend previous findings relating pet ownership and social support to survival among patients with coronary artery disease.
Article
To determine whether pet ownership by elderly people is associated with lower use of health services. Survey of physical and mental health, and retrospective 12-month review of Medicare records of the number of general practitioner and specialist services. Elderly people living in Canberra (Australian Capital Territory) and Queanbeyan (New South Wales), surveyed in 1994 for the second stage of a larger longitudinal study. Elderly pet owners did not differ from non-owners on any of the physical or mental health measures or in use of health services. Given the high use of health services by older people, our findings suggest that the claim that pet ownership leads to savings in health services should be viewed with caution.
Article
The mechanisms underlying the possible cardiovascular benefits of pet ownership have not been established. Using a randomized design, the effect of a friendly dog on cardiovascular and autonomic responses to acute, mild mental stress was investigated. Seventy-two subjects (aged 40 +/- 14 y; mean +/- SD) participated. Rest was alternated with mental stress during four 10-minute periods. An unknown dog was randomly selected to be present during the first or the second half of the study. Blood pressure (BP) and heart rate (HR) were monitored continuously and cardiac autonomic function assessed using spectral analysis of heart period. Heart period variability data were expressed as the ratio of 0.1 Hz to respiratory or high frequency variation (LF/HF). Whereas mental stress significantly increased BP and HR in the absence of the dog (from 125/71 +/- 3/2 to 133/75 +/- 3/2 mm Hg; p <0.001), the presence of the dog had no effect on these variables. Heart period LF/HF ratio was lowest in dog owners in the presence of the dog (dog present 2.8 +/- 0.3 versus dog absent 3.4 +/- 0.4; p <0.001) and in non-dog owners in the absence of the dog (dog present 3.4 +/- 0.4 versus dog absent 2.8 +/- 0.3; p <0.001). In conclusion, a friendly but unfamiliar dog does not influence BP or HR either at rest or during mild mental stress. Cardiac autonomic profile was most favorable in the presence of the dog for dog owners and in the absence of the dog for non-owners.
Article
The purpose of this study was to examine the effects of the presence of friends, spouses, and pets on cardiovascular reactivity to psychological and physical stress. Cardiovascular reactivity was examined among 240 married couples, half of whom owned a pet. Mental arithmetic and cold pressor were performed in one of four randomly assigned social support conditions: alone, with pet or friend (friend present for non-pet owners), with spouse, with spouse and pet/friend. Relative to people without pets, people with pets had significantly lower heart rate and blood pressure levels during a resting baseline, significantly smaller increases (ie, reactivity) from baseline levels during the mental arithmetic and cold pressor, and faster recovery. Among pet owners, the lowest reactivity and quickest recovery was observed in the pet-present conditions. People perceive pets as important, supportive parts of their lives, and significant cardiovascular and behavioral benefits are associated with those perceptions.
Twenty-eight subjects with chronic age-related disabilities living in the nursing home"Istituto di Riposo per la Vecchiaia" in Torino were assigned to a pet-therapy intervention group, consisting of 3/week sessions of almost one-hour visit for 6 weeks with a little cat, of to a control group undergoing usual activity programs. The purpose of this study was to evaluate the effects of pet-therapy on nursing home inpatients. There were no differences in demographic or clinical characteristics and in mean duration of institutionalization between the two groups. Results showed that patients with animal interaction had improved depressive symptoms and a significant decrease in blood pressure values. The pet-therapy programs are desirable components of the multidisciplinary treatment for frail elderly patients in long-term care.
Article
There is growing interest across a range of disciplines in the relationship between pets and health, with a range of therapeutic, physiological, psychological and psychosocial benefits now documented. While much of the literature has focused on the individual benefits of pet ownership, this study considered the potential health benefits that might accrue to the broader community, as encapsulated in the construct of social capital. A random survey of 339 adult residents from Perth, Western Australia were selected from three suburbs and interviewed by telephone. Pet ownership was found to be positively associated with some forms of social contact and interaction, and with perceptions of neighbourhood friendliness. After adjustment for demographic variables, pet owners scored higher on social capital and civic engagement scales. The results suggest that pet ownership provides potential opportunities for interactions between neighbours and that further research in this area is warranted. Social capital is another potential mechanism by which pets exert an influence on human health.
Article
To compare changes in autonomic nervous activity in healthy senior individuals while walking with and without a dog, and during routine activities at home and periods of interacting with the dog at home. Controlled crossover study. 13 healthy volunteers (3 men, 10 women; mean age, 67.5 years) who walked in a park adjacent to Gunma University, Japan, and 4 volunteers among these who underwent monitoring in their own homes. Heart rate variability was monitored continuously by means of a palm-sized electrocardiographic monitor (which facilitated spectral analysis of the RR interval) while participants walked for 30 minutes (first with, then without, the study dog, or vice versa); three participants underwent this intervention on 3 consecutive days. Four participants underwent continuous monitoring for 6 hours in their own homes, including two 30-minute periods of free interaction with the study dog. High frequency (HF) power values of heart rate variability, which is a measure of parasympathetic neural activity. During dog-walking, HF power increased significantly (P < 0.01); this increase was sustained throughout each dog walk, and was more pronounced during succeeding dog walks. At home, HF power was 1.87 times greater when the dog was present, and 1.57 times greater (P < 0.01) than in the walking experiment. Walking a dog has potentially greater health benefits as a buffer against stress in senior citizens than walking without a dog; and, independent of actually walking, merely patting and talking to a dog also raises parasympathetic neural activity. Power spectral analysis of heart rate variability shows promise as a non-invasive approach to quantifying clinicophysiological research on human health benefits possibly derived from interaction with companion animals.
Article
The German Socio-Economic Panel (GSOEP) is an interdisciplinary longitudinal study of private households for the representative analysis and interpretation of social and economic behavior in the Federal Republic of Germany. As a longitudinal survey, the GSOEP primarily aims to collect information on stability and changes over time at the micro level of individuals, households and families. Because the survey period is sufficiently long, due to the design of the GSOEP, the data can also be used for analyzing intergenerational relationships. The GSOEP is an element of the statistical infrastructure born by the scientific community in compliance with international standards.
Article
'I propose here the view that, when the market fails to achieve an optimal state, society will, to some extent at least, recognize the gap, and nonmarket social institutions will arise attempting to bridge it....' (Kenneth Arrow 1963, p. 947). 'Economic theorists traditionally banish discussions of information to footnotes. Serious consideration of costs of communication, imperfect knowledge ... would, it is believed, complicate without informing.... [T]his comforting myth is false. Some of the most important conclusions of economic theory are not robust to considerations of imperfect information' (Michael Rothschild and Joseph Stiglitz 1976, p. 629). 'That any sane nation, having observed that you could provide for the supply of bread by giving bakers a pecuniary interest in baking for you, should go on to give a surgeon a pecuniary interest in cutting off your leg, is enough to make one despair of political humanity' (George Bernard Shaw, The Doctor's Dilemma, 1911).
Article
This paper discusses the specification and estimation of seemingly unrelated multivariate count data models. A new model with negative binomial marginals is proposed. In contrast to a previous model based on the multivariate Poisson distribution, the new model allows for over-dispersion, a phenomenon that is frequently encountered in economic count data. Semi-parametric estimation is possible if some of the assumption of the fully specified model are violated.
Pet possession and life satisfaction in elderly women
  • M G Ory
  • E L Goldberg
  • M.G. Ory
Ory, M. G., & Goldberg, E. L. (1983). Pet possession and life satisfaction in elderly women. In A. H. Katcher & E. S. Beck (Eds.), New perspectives on our lives with companion animals (pp. 303-317). Philadelphia: University of Pennsylvania Press.
Relationship between Pet Ownership and Health Care Use among Seniors, 8th Conference of the International Association of Human-Animal Interaction Organisations
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Raina, P., Bonnett, B., & Waltner-Toews, D. (1998). Relationship between pet ownership and health care use among seniors, 8th Conference of the International Association of Human-Animal Interaction Organisations, Prague, September 10-11.
International Survey of Economic Attitudes in Australia
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Influences of pet ownership on the empty nester family
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Fu, Na, & Zheng, R. (2003). Influences of pet ownership on the empty nester family. Chinese Mental Health Journal, 17, 31-39.
Comments on animal companions and one-year survival of patients after discharge
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Wright, J. C., & Moore, D. (1982). Comments on animal companions and one-year survival of patients after discharge. Public Health Reports, 97, 380-381.