Today’s Veterinary Business Staff
A Human Animal Bond Research Institute report has revealed that pet ownership saves the U.S. health care system about $22.7 billion annually.
The report, co-authored by Drs. Terry L. Clower and Tonya E. Thornton:
- Examined scientifically documented pet ownership health benefits.
- Identified the populations receiving those benefits.
- Quantified the avoided health care costs for those individuals.
“The results of this analysis are conservative and likely underestimate the positive health care savings connected to pet ownership,” Dr. Clower said. “Presently, there is not yet sufficient data available to calculate the direct health care cost savings for some of the known beneficial health effects of pet ownership, and we believe that future analyses will show even greater economic benefits.”
Key findings include:
- Pet owners tend to visit their doctor less than non-pet owners, saving $15 billion annually.
- Owners who regularly walk their dogs have lower obesity risk, leading to $4.5 billion in savings.
- Pet ownership correlates to a 14% reduction in Clostridioides difficile reinfection cases (colon inflammation) for hospitalized patients, saving $90.5 million.
- 8- to 10-year-old children who live with a dog have a 9% lower probability of being diagnosed with clinical anxiety, saving $672 million annually in mental health care costs.
- Senior Americans with pets are less likely to have health issues connected to loneliness and social isolation, lowering annual Medicare spending by an estimated $1.8 billion.
- Overall spending on the treatment of post-traumatic stress disorder is about $688 million lower for military veterans with a service or emotional support animal.
Other populations that might benefit economically from pet ownership include those affected by dementia, Type 1 diabetes and non-military PTSD.
Related health topics under investigation include:
- How early exposure to pets affects allergies in people.
- How pet ownership affects heart health.
- How pets improve physical and mental well-being throughout life.
- Whether owning a pet mitigates the impacts of a pandemic.
“By commissioning this economic report, we are documenting the important role of pets as valued contributors to public health,” said Steven Feldman, HABRI president. “This data suggests that there should be stronger societal support for keeping pets and people healthy together.”
A Banfield Pet Hospital grant funded the report.