Science Says: Talk About Pets!

The Human Animal Bond Research Institute, The University of Toronto, Markham Stouffville Hospital, and the Western College of Veterinary Medicine at the University of Saskatchewan recently announced the publication of a study exploring whether primary healthcare professionals asking their patients about the pets in the family would positively impact communication to gather clinically relevant information and improve patient care.

225 healthcare professionals were surveyed about the prevalence of patients living with pets, the health impact of pets and influences on patient communication.

The Results:

  • Patients are more open to talking to their healthcare providers about their pets, revealing clinically relevant information about how they live
  • Asking about pets in the family is an easy and effective way to build trust with a patient, strengthening the patient-provider therapeutic alliance
  • Having an exam-room conversation about companion animals helps healthcare providers learn important information about patients’ lifestyle and home life which can positively influence the way they evaluate and treat their patients.


Kate Hodgson, DVM, MHSc, CCMEP, and co-author of the study said, “When healthcare providers learn about the pets in patients’ lives, they are also developing an understanding of specific aspects of their patients’ environment and social history that can improve the delivery of healthcare.”

Click here to learn more about this recently published study. For more information about the innovative research projects, HABRI has funded, visit their website.


New Study to Focus on Cats and Children with Autism

University_of_Missouri_logo.svgThe Human Animal Bond Research Institute recently awarded a $52,204 grant to the University of Missouri for a new study, Shelter Cat Adoption in Families of Children with Autism: Impact on Children’s Social Skills and Anxiety as well as Cat Stress.

The study will examine the effect of the introduction of a shelter cat on social skills and anxiety in children with autism, and on stress levels for the cats themselves.

Regarding the decision to study cats, the study’s Principal Investigator, Gretchen Carlisle, PhD, said “While many studies have focused on the impact of dogs on children with ASD, this study aims to determine the beneficial impacts of a pet cat on children with autism and their families, as the temperament and the ease of care for cats compared to other animals may increase the likelihood of a positive outcome for the children, the cats and the family as a whole.”

In addition to HABRI’s grant award, the PIs also received funding from the Winn Feline Foundation in the amount of $25,000. The combined funding from Winn Feline and HABRI have enabled the PIs to expand the sample size and add the support of a statistician, which will greatly enhance the power of the study and hopefully result in more definitive and robust findings.

Click here to learn more about this study. For more information about the innovative research projects, HABRI has funded, visit their website.