News for HR Professionals

The dollars and sense of pet ownership.

For pet owners and vets, recent findings that show the immense health benefits of life with a pet come as no surprise. From lower stress and better cardiovascular health to decreased allergies and longer lives, living with an animal companion can be one of the healthiest decisions a human can make. For HR professionals, that means fewer sick days and higher productivity and happiness for employees. But a new study from the Human Animal Bond Initiative (HABRI) takes it one step further and outlines the significant positive impact our pets have on the bottom line as well.

Improving the health of Healthcare

The new study entitled The Healthcare Cost Savings of Pets utilized pet ownership data and healthcare usage figures to estimate that the benefits related to pet ownership save $11.7 billion in U.S. healthcare costs. While there are positive indications of pet ownership’s affect on areas such as infection control, cardiovascular health, hypertension, cholesterol, allergies, stress, blood pressure and psychological issues, the HABRI study focuses on two main contributors to the costs savings: Reduced doctor visits and a lower incidence of obesity.

11850 VPI doctor chart

Fewer doctor visits

Perhaps the saying should be "a pet in your day keeps the doctor away." A review of various studies from multiple countries around the world reveals that pet owners go to a physician’s office less often than non-owners. In fact, the most conservative findings report those living with a furry (or non-furry) friend average 60% fewer doctor visits per year than those without. Based on an average cost of $139 per visit, the 132.8 million pet owners in the US save the healthcare system $11.37 billion dollars annually.¹

obesity chart

Lower incidence of obesity

It’s amazing how much a simple dog walk can do – for the pet owner and the pet alike. The HABRI study shows that, of the 132.8 million pet owners in the US, 23% walk their dog 5 or more times per week. That means there are over 20 million dog owners out there fighting obesity and winning. Among these regular dog walkers, the incidence of obesity is 5% lower than in non-pet owners. That 5% equates to over $419 million in healthcare cost savings.

We all have pets to thank.

It appears the benefits of pets go even deeper than previously thought. In addition to helping to keep your employees happier and healthier, our furry companions are helping to keep healthcare costs down for employers. Of course, that means one of the best ways to keep people healthy and keep healthcare costs down, is by keeping our pets healthy as well. A pet insurance plan, such as those offered by Nationwide, makes it easy for your employees to give their pets the high-level care they deserve. It’s the least we can do considering everything they do for us.

¹Clower, Terry L.; Neaves, Tonya T. (2015) The Health Care Cost Savings of Pet Ownership.