Research Shows Pet Ownership Saves $11.7 Billion In Health Care Costs

While we all know our pets are priceless, experts have in fact been able to assign a dollar value to the health benefits they provide – and it’s a pretty hefty one! It seems research conducted by two teams from Virginia’s George Mason University came up with $11.37 billion in savings made to the US healthcare system and its all down to pet ownership!

The announcement came from the Human Animal Bond Research Initiative (HABRI) Foundation who state that numbers suggest puppy love is just what the doctor ordered. “Thinking about things that people should do to maintain their health, ‘get a pet’ belongs on that list,” said HABRI Executive Director, Steven Feldman. “When health insurance companies are looking at wellness incentives to keep costs down, pet ownership provides another way for people to stay healthy and save money.”

Related: New Study Will Focus On Benefits Of Pets For Older Americans

The HABRI Foundation maintains the world’s largest online library of human-animal bond research, funds innovative projects that scientifically document the health benefits of companion animals and shares this information with the public.

Terry L. Clower PhD, co-author of the study and Professor of Public Policy at the university describes the unique attributes to this particular research project. “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.”

Related: HABRI Grants $42,000 To Study Effects Of Service Dogs On War Veterans With PTSD

That “impact” is in the billions of dollars and comes from analyzing the number of times that pet parents in the US visit their physician versus non-pet parents. It seems that 132.8 million pet owners visit a doctor 0.6 times less than the average non-pet owners. With the average cost of a visit to the physician around the $139 mark, you do the math: $11.37 billion in savings!

It gets better! More than 20 million pet-owners are diligent enough to ensure Rover gets out for a walk five or more times a week. Not only does this shrink the waistline and lower incidence of obesity, it shaves around $419 million in related health care costs.

The added health benefits such as reduced stress, hypertension, blood pressure and cardiovascular disease have all already been documented however economists were unable to assign a specific cost savings and felt further economic data was needed. Overall, their feeling was that the tremendous savings seen from just the minimal research conducted to date was just the tip of the iceberg. Down the line and with more in-depth research, the health care cost savings associated with pet ownership is likely to be even greater.”

This HABRI report is full of interesting finding – you can read the all of their findings on the HABRI website.


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