Veterinary professionals don’t need a study to tell them that pets are good for your health. But now, there is quantitative data to prove it.

On Dec. 14, the Human Animal Bond Research Initiative (HABRI) released a new economic study that quantifies the healthcare cost savings associated with pet ownership. The economic analysis, conducted by researchers at George Mason University, calculated an $11.7 billion savings in U.S. healthcare costs as a result of pet ownership.

“There was abundant research to show that pets have a positive effect on our health, but this is the first time that anyone has looked at the impact on the U.S. healthcare system,” said study co-author Terry L. Clower, PhD, Northern Virginia Chair and Professor of Public Policy at George Mason University’s School of Policy, Government, and International Affairs and Director of its Center on Regional Analysis. “Our analysis shows that pet ownership produces meaningful savings for total health care costs in the United States.”

The cost savings breakdown is in two areas:

  • Pet owners, who number 132.8 million, save the U.S. healthcare system $11.37 billion in physician office visits.
  • The 20 million dog owners who walk their dogs five or more times a week, show a lower incidence of obesity and save $419 million in healthcare costs. 

The researchers concluded that the healthcare cost savings related to pet ownership is likely to be more than what is outlined in the report but would need more economic data to show the impact on infection control, cardiovascular disease, hypertension, cholesterol, allergies, stress, blood pressure, and psychological issues. 

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