Pets Against Loneliness: How the Human-Animal Bond Helps

Do pets make us feel less lonely? Research suggests that they might.

A recent U.S. survey from the Human Animal Bond Research Institute (HABRI) in collaboration with Mars Petcare found that 85% of respondents believe interaction with a pet can help reduce loneliness.

These are important benefits. Especially when you consider that more than 61% of Americans say they feel either lonely or socially isolated. Loneliness is a major risk factor for depression, and some experts say it could be as dangerous to health as smoking.

These insights and more were part of the dialogue when experts in public health, research, psychology, gerontology and veterinary medicine gathered in Washington, D.C. for the first-ever Summit on Social Isolation and Companion Animals in May 2019.

“Driven by science, we hope to enable and encourage experts who work with people facing loneliness and social isolation to consider facilitating animal interaction as a way to help address the issue,” explained Dr. Nancy Gee, PhD, Human-Animal Interaction Research Manager at WALTHAM Centre for Pet Nutrition.

Here’s a look at the HABRI/Mars Petcare survey results that helped drive the discussion:

infographic of social isolation survey results
Download survey results

These are topics researchers will continue to explore, and Mars Petcare will continue to support. The mental health benefits of pets are one of the many reasons why the BETTER CITIES FOR PETS™ initiative and city certification program were created. When people can enjoy a life with pets, we have access to all the wonderful benefits that brings.

Learn more about the benefits of human-animal interaction from WALTHAM.

See how you can help make your city pet-friendly.

Read more about the Summit in this article from USA Today.

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