"Dog Days" May Be Keys To Better Health

December 2, 2002 (PLANSPONSOR.com) - Ninety-seven percent of pet owners say their pet makes them smile at least once a day, leading owners to say their pets are a prescription to better health, according to a survey by the American Animal Hospital Association (AAHA).

The survey of 1,242 pet owners in the US, Canada and Puerto Rico found 92% of pet owners indicate their pets have joined diet and exercise as keys to better health.   Among the benefits that pets provide, owners report pets helping to relieve stress levels (76%) and improve mental health (65%).  

Apparently, pets know when the extra care is needed, as 85% believe their pet shows concern when they are sick.

The owners are reciprocating the care, with 93% of owners reporting that they take their pet to the veterinarian for regular checkups.   Additionally, 73% would spend $1,000 or more to save a pet’s life and 48% have taken up to two days off work to be with a sick pet.  

Pets are also becoming a part of the family for some, with almost half of the respondents reporting having more pictures of pets than of their spouse or significant other.   The survey also found:

  • 86% are including their pet in holiday celebrations
  • 73% have signed a greeting card “from the dog”
  • 64% hang a Christmas stocking for their pet

“Pets are becoming more than just a member of the family,” says Dr. Link Welborn, AAHA president-elect. “They are central to a healthy lifestyle and as a result, pet owners are going to greater lengths to keep their pets happy and healthy.”