March 20, 2018

How The Pet Effect Can Affect Your Practice

The Pet Effect is real, and it offers an excellent opportunity to show your clients how important you are not only to their pet’s health but to their own health and wellbeing.
By Kerry Lengyel

Most pet owners are intuitively aware of the many benefits of pet ownership. But backing up these instinctive beliefs with real data can have a massive effect — The Pet Effect, to be exact.

A joint venture by Zoetis and the Human Animal Bond Research Institute (HABRI), The Pet Effect campaign promotes the idea that by keeping pets healthy, veterinarians, veterinary technicians, and other pet health professionals are key players in both human and public health.

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“How much more relevant is the veterinarian when the pet owner becomes acutely aware of the impact that a healthy relationship with a pet can have on their own health and wellbeing, or their family’s health and wellbeing?” asked Michael McFarland, DVM, DABVP, Executive Director, Zoetis Petcare Marketing.

People and The Pet Effect
The Pet Effect website promotes the positive impact of pets on people by providing research-backed evidence—presented in clever, fun, and unique ways—of the many health benefits of having a furry friend:
  • Childhood Allergies: Having a dog early in life can affect immune development and may reduce the development of certain allergies.
  • Heart Attack Survival: People who never owned a cat have a 40% higher relative risk of death from a heart attack.
  • Cardiovascular Disease: Being around pets can lower cholesterol and triglyceride levels.
  • Autism: Children with autism spectrum disorder often experience positive behavioral changes when they are around animals.
  • Obesity: Adults who walk their dogs regularly may be less likely to become obese.
  • Blood Pressure: People with pets may have lower resting blood pressure.
  • Depression: Pets can help alleviate several symptoms of depression.
  • Posttraumatic stress disorder: Pets help alleviate the symptoms of PTSD.

Veterinarians and The Pet Effect
While understanding how pets affect human health is important, what’s perhaps even more important for veterinarians is to understand how The Pet Effect can benefit veterinary practices.

In the age of Dr. Google, pet owners often seek information about what their pets need from online sources—not just their veterinarian. But The Pet Effect has the power to change that.

“The more the veterinarian can educate the pet owner about their pet’s needs, but also about how their pet can influence the health and wellbeing of their family, then that veterinarian becomes increasingly…relevant in the eyes of the pet owner,” Dr. McFarland said.

The Pet Effect better defines the relationship between the veterinarian and pet owner, and actively discussing The Pet Effect with veterinary clients can:
  • Encourage them to bring their pets into your office more often for wellness visits.
  • Improve practice performance, because research shows that top-performing practices put more stock in improving the human-animal bond rather than improving the bond between the practice and pet owners.
“Companion animal veterinarians…are also a key contributor to public health,” Dr. McFarland said. “The more pet owners understand that, the more I think they are going to consider veterinarians first and foremost as a credible source of information about their pet."


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