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New study in the Netherlands
Brussels and Venlo, October 2012
FEDIAF attended the 40th anniversary of the Dutch Pet Food Association (Nederlandse Voedingsindustrie Gezelschapdieren, NVG), where Dr Nienke Endenburg from the Faculty of Animal Health of Utrecht University presented the results of a study on the effects cats and dogs can have on human mental and physical health.
Pet owners, the study reveals, feel happier than people without pets; this is seen as one reason why pet owners resort far less to the services of psychologists. The study also reveals that dog owners use less medicinal drugs and have fewer sick leaves. This was less evident for cat owners, but the study also showed that cats as a companion are more often chosen by chronically sick people and/or those forced to stay at home. It could thus well be that cat owners need less health care, but further research is required, Dr Endenburg concludes. The results also show that the higher the level of attachment to the pet the lesser the need for medication. Keeping pet animals can thus reduce health expenditure which is an important finding in the current times of increasing costs for public health.
The Dutch study confirms previous research in other countries, which showed that cats and/or dogs have a positive influence on the mental and physical health of their owners. Pet owners have lower blood pressure, lower cholesterol levels and slower heartbeat. They visit their general practitioner less, use less medication and spend shorter time in hospitals. Public health expenditure, such studies have shown, is significantly reduced.
The NVG is one of FEDIAF's 18 national/regional member associations.
Dr Nienke Endenburg is a psychologist on health care and teaches/researches at Utrecht University; she is also adviser to the foundation Pets make you better people. Her above research was presented for the first time at the 40th anniversary of the NVG. Dr Endenburg's study is the first conducted on this subject in the Netherlands in a timespan from June to end September 2012 and based on written internet survey. 248 participants owned a cat or a dog, 208 respondents had no pet.
For more information:
For the NVG: Benita Beekhof, Tel +31 183 645023
For FEDIAF: Thomas Meyer, Tel + 32 2 536 05 20