New research out has revealed that pets could save the NHS £2.5 billion a year as a result of the impact they have on their owners health and recovery from illness.

The studies showed that pets can lower blood pressure and cholesterol, and improve heart function and cardiovascular fitness – this contributes to a decreased risk of heart attack, stroke and other cardiovascular diseases.

Speaking of the study findings at a recent forum held by Purina in Brussels, Professor Daniel Mills, a professor of veterinary behavioural medicine at the University of Lincoln, said that pet ownership can help save the NHS £2.5 billion a year.

Animal assisted activities and therapy (AAT), where animals are involved as a way of improving social, emotional and cognitive function, and supporting recovery and rehabilitation, can play an important role in this cost saving also. In fact, over a third (36%) of people recognise the benefits of pets in therapy and recovery and 77% would consider AAT, but less than 1% (0.4%) surveyed have taken part in any form of AAT in the past.

Professor Mills continued, “While these numbers are not perfect, there is definitely something there that the public health and pet care community needs to pay attention to. The benefits of responsible pet ownership are clear. I’ve seen pets have dramatic effects on autistic children. Understanding the subtleties and nuances of how people and pets work together is vitally important for the well-being of both, and has the potential to make a massive difference to public health. But it is crucial that the industry is given an opportunity to analyse this further. Ignoring the evidence is a far greater problem than dismissing the research as being at an early stage.”


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