Stress reduced by a kitten's purr or dog’s wagging tale says research

Pet owners urged to support Stress Down Day (Friday 24th July)

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Pet owners across Australia are being urged to support Lifeline’s Stress Down Day and encourage others to consider pet ownership as research suggests animals of all kinds can have a calming and stress-reducing effect.

Pet owners across Australia are being urged to support Lifeline’s Stress Down Day and encourage others to consider pet ownership as research suggests animals of all kinds can have a calming and stress-reducing effect.

 Stress Down Day – celebrated on Friday 24th July –  is a fun and easy way to reduce stress and raise vital funds for Lifeline. A Newspoll survey conducted for Lifeline found that 90% of Australians need to stress less, with 74% of people feeling stressed because of work.1If stress lasts a long time or overwhelms a person it can negatively impact their health, wellbeing, relationships, work and general enjoyment of life.2

 In finding ways to reduce stress in humans, pet experts at the WALTHAM Centre for Pet Nutrition believe contact with companion animals, such as cats and dogs, is one possible solution. A number of recent studies suggest pets can help reduce stress at work and home.

 A landmark study3 discovered that pets in the workplace can result in significant reductions in employee stress levels. Not only this, but offices who welcomed four-legged companions cited an increase in productivity and heightened company morale.3 A separate study found that pet owners had greater self esteem, undertook more exercise, fared better on measures of wellbeing and were better able to cope with social rejection than non-pet owners.4 Pet ownership has also been shown to act as a buffer from stressful situations and events, especially in old age.5

 Dr Sandra McCune, Scientific Leader on Human-Animal Interaction at the WALTHAM Centre for Pet Nutrition, said: "For people who like pets, it’s virtually impossible to stay in a bad mood when a cat rubs against your hand or if a dog wants to play. This human-animal interaction provides a range of physical and emotional benefits, which is emerging as a significant source of support and wellbeing for people of all ages.”

 Mars Petcare is one of the many companies taking part in this year's Stress Down Day. Employees at the company’s headquarters in Wodonga will bring their pets into work and fundraise for Lifeline's important services.

 Paul Matuschka, one of the Mars Petcare fundraisers, said: “We have a really positive work culture that’s in part thanks to having pets in the office most days. Pets make us happy, which is why we thought Stress Down Day would be a great initiative for us to support.”

 Research into the stress-reducing effects of pets dates back to the 1980s. One of the first studies found stroking a pet can be an antidote to stress; with researchers finding that people talking to and petting a dog have lower blood pressure than when they interact with another person.6

 The WALTHAM Centre for Pet Nutrition, owned by Mars, has been a leading scientific authority on pet nutrition and wellbeing for fifty years. In 2014 alone, WALTHAM published 46 peer reviewed scientific papers.

 

ENDS

 

More information and interview requests contact:

Ishtar Schneider                                              Sonya Friesen

Palin Communications                                    Palin Communications

02 9412 2255 / 0422 944 023                         02 9412 2255 / 0423 495 392  

ishtar@palin.com.au                                       sonya@palin.com.au

 

Ben Seal
Palin Communications
02 9412 2255 / 0402 386 392
ben@palin.com.au

 

To contact the Lifeline media team please call: 0408 407 376

References

  1. Newspoll survey for Lifeline. Campaign statistics 2015. Available:  http://stressdown2015.gofundraise.com.au/
  2. Lifeline Factsheet: Coping with Stress. Available: file:///C:/Users/ben/Downloads/Coping%20with%20Stress%20Fact%20Sheet.pdf
  3. Randolph T. Barker, Janet S. Knisely, Sandra B. Barker, Rachel K. Cobb, Christine M. Schubert. Preliminary investigation of employee's dog presence on stress and organizational perceptions. International Journal of Workplace Health Management, 2012; 5 (1): 15 DOI: 10.1108/17538351211215366
  4. McConnell, AR, Brown, CM, Shoda, TM, Stayton, LE, Martin, CE, 2011, ‘Friends with benefits: on the positive consequences of pet ownership’, Journal of Personality & Social Psychology, vol.101, no.6, pp.1239-1252
  5. Anderson KA et al (2015) Fostering the Human-Animal Bond for Older Adults: Challenges and Opportunities. Activities Adaption and Aging, 39: 32-42, 2015
  6. Vormbrock, JK, & Grossberg, JM, 1988, ’Cardiovascular effects of human-pet dog interactions’, Journal of Behavioral Medicine, vol. 11, no. 5, pp. 509-517

Notes to Editors:

Mars Petcare Australia

Mars Petcare is the world’s leading pet food and veterinary care business that strives to make A Better World for Pets® every day. Mars Petcare believes that pets make our lives better and that pet ownership brings joy and benefits which should be accessible to everyone. Mars Petcare has a number of leading brands including PEDIGREE®, WHISKAS®, DINE®, ADVANCE®, OPTIMUM®, SCHMACKOS® ROYAL CANIN®, EUKANUBA® IAMS®. Key specialty brands include the WALTHAM Centre for Pet Nutrition®, a leading scientific authority on pet nutrition and wellbeing.  Mars Petcare has more than 37,000 Associates worldwide.

 

Follow Mars Petcare’s Pet Positive campaign on Twitter and Instagram:

www.twitter.com/PetPositives

www.instagram.com/PetPositives

 

The WALTHAM Centre for Pet Nutrition

The WALTHAM Centre for Pet Nutrition is a leading scientific authority in pet nutrition and wellbeing and has been advancing the frontiers of scientific research into the nutrition and health of pets for over 50 years. Located in Leicestershire, England, the renowned state-of-the-art science institute focuses on the nutritional and behavioural needs of pets and their benefits to humans, enabling the development of innovative products which meet these needs in a practical way. In collaboration with the world’s foremost scientific institutes, WALTHAM has pioneered many important breakthroughs in pet understanding and nutrition and leverages this knowledge through Mars Petcare brands to make a better world for pets.

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“The Pet Factor” makes friends and builds communities say Australian scientists

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New research1 by the University of Western Australia shows that pet owners are more likely to meet new people and make meaningful friendships. The findings suggest a practical way to address the social isolation and loneliness experienced by many Australians.

New research1 by the University of Western Australia shows that pet owners are more likely to meet new people and make meaningful friendships. The findings suggest a practical way to address the social isolation and loneliness experienced by many Australians.

The Pet Factor study1 shows pet owners are significantly more likely to get to know people in their neighborhood than non-pet owners. 53.4% of Australian pet owners who took part in the study said they got to know people in the neighborhood as a direct result of their pet. A quarter (24.7%) regarded at least one person met through their pet as a friend. The results were consistent with three US cities also included in the study.

Dogs were found to be especially good at helping people become part of the community. Dog owners were five times more likely to get to know people in their neighborhood compared with other pet owners. However people owning a wide variety of pets also reported meeting and getting to know people through their pet.

The study, conducted in collaboration with the WALTHAM™ Centre for Pet Nutrition, owned by Mars, concludes that pets may be an important factor in developing healthy neighborhoods and a way to address social isolation experienced by some individuals.

Lead author of the Pet Factor study, Associate Professor Lisa Wood from The University of Western Australia, said: “We know from other research that strong social support networks are good for both mental and physical health, and so we looked at the capacity of pets to foster this in our study. We found that around 40% of pet owners reported receiving one or more types of social support from someone they met through their pet – this ranged from someone they could talk to about problems or things that were worrying them, through to being able to ask someone for advice or practical help.”

“Pets can be an ice-breaker when meeting someone new and a talking point with friends or acquaintances, which gives pet owners a wider social network and a greater sense of community,” said Prof Wood.

“With loneliness and social isolation a major problem in Australia, pet ownership may be one way to help those who feel alone. Pets create opportunities for interpersonal interactions that can lead to deep, human friendships,” said Prof Wood.

The study involved a telephone based survey of over 2500 randomly selected adults aged 18 and over from four cities, including: Perth (Australia); San Diego, CA; Portland, OR; and, Nashville, TN (US). The study, entitled ‘The Pet Factor - Companion Animals as a Conduit for Getting to Know People, Friendship Formation and Social Support’ has been published in the peer-reviewed scientific publication, PLOS ONE www.plosone.org. The full article can be read here.

The WALTHAM™ Centre for Pet Nutrition, owned by Mars, has been a leading scientific authority on pet nutrition and wellbeing for fifty years. In 2013 alone, Waltham published 39 peer reviewed scientific papers.

 

More information and interview requests contact:

Ben Seal                                          Sonya Friesen
Palin Communications                      Palin Communications
0402 386 392                                  0423 495 392
ben@palin.com.au                          sonya@palin.com.au

 

References

1. Wood L, Martin K, Christian H, Nathan A, Lauritsen C, Houghton S, et al. (2015) The Pet Factor - Companion Animals as a Conduit for Getting to Know People, Friendship Formation and Social Support. PLoS ONE 10(4): e0122085. doi:10.1371/ journal.pone.0122085

2. Relationship Australia. Press release (4th December 2014): Relationships Australia Survey Identifies Need for Mateship. Available: www.relationships.org.au/media/media-releases/media-release-loneliness

 

Notes to Editors:

Mars Petcare Australia

Mars Petcare is the world’s leading pet food and veterinary care business that strives to make A Better World for Pets every day. Mars Petcare believes that pets make our lives better and that pet ownership brings joy and benefits which should be accessible to everyone. Mars Petcare has a number of leading brands including PEDIGREE®, WHISKAS®, DINE®, ADVANCE™, OPTIMUM™ , SCHMACKOS™  ROYAL CANIN®, EUKANUBA™ IAMS™ . Key specialty brands include the WALTHAM™ Centre for Pet Nutrition, a leading scientific authority on pet nutrition and wellbeing. Mars Petcare has more than 37,000 Associates worldwide.

The WALTHAM Centre for Pet Nutrition:

The WALTHAM™ Centre for Pet Nutrition is a leading scientific authority in pet nutrition and wellbeing and has been advancing the frontiers of scientific research into the nutrition and health of pets for over 50 years. Located in Leicestershire, England, the renowned state-of-the-art science institute focuses on the nutritional and behavioural needs of pets and their benefits to humans, enabling the development of innovative products which meet these needs in a practical way. In collaboration with the world’s foremost scientific institutes, WALTHAM™ has pioneered many important breakthroughs in pet understanding and nutrition and leverages this knowledge through Mars Petcare brands to make a better world for pets.

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Specially trained dogs help children with autism World Autism Awareness Day (2nd April)

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Australian research shows animal contact improves personal development of children with autism.

Sydney, Australia – Thursday 2nd April, 2015 – A unique way to help children with autism has been found - pair them with specially trained dogs.

Assistance Dogs Australia recently launched PAWS (Parents Autism Workshops and Support) that helps parents explore how a trained dog can help their children with autism. The success of PAWS is being celebrated on World Autism Awareness Day, an annual event held on 2nd April that encourages fundraising for projects that help people with the complex neurological disorder.

Ground-breaking research by the WALTHAM Centre for Pet Nutrition in partnership with the University of Queensland found that children with autism spectrum disorder (ASD) benefited from exposure to animal-assisted activities within an 8-week period.1 The study concluded that animal-assisted activities may provide a relatively simple and cost-effective means of helping educators and families improve the social functioning of children with autism. 1

Autism is estimated to affect 230,000 Australians and is often diagnosed in early childhood.2 Those with autism often have different ways of learning, paying attention and reacting to sensations.2 Boys are four times more likely than girls to be diagnosed with autism.3,4

Assistance Dogs Australia is a national charity which trains Labradors and Golden Retrievers to offer freedom and independence for children and adults throughout Australia living with disabilities. Through an accredited training program, these incredible dogs learn how to master more than 50 specialized commands, including ways to develop the communication and empathy of a child with autism.

The charity is currently supporting 55 families across the country who have a child diagnosed with autism. Assistance Dogs Australia receives no government funding so relies heavily on the generosity of individuals and community support to carry out this work.

National Programs Manager of Assistance Dogs Australia, Alberto Alvarez-Campos, said: “Partnering trained dogs with children and young adults with autism is an approach that has brought consistently positive results. Specially trained dogs can significantly enhance a child’s self-reliance, communication skills and empathy to new situations and people.”

Australian universities, in partnership with the WALTHAM Centre for Pet Nutrition, have for decades conducted globally recognised research into the positive benefits of pet ownership.

Dr. Marguerite O’Haire, who conducted the research into autism and animal-assisted activities whilst at the University of Queensland, said: “Pets offer a range of physical and emotional benefits to their owners and the research shows contact with animals, such as dogs, can help improve the behaviour and social skills of children with autism. It’s a mutually beneficial relationship that can help humans stay physically and emotionally healthy from childhood well into old age.”

The WALTHAM Centre for Pet Nutrition, part of Mars Petcare, has been a leading scientific authority on pet nutrition and wellbeing for over fifty years. In 2013 alone, WALTHAM® published 39 peer reviewed scientific papers.

Mars Petcare General Manager, Sylvia Burbery, said: “Mars Petcare is proud to continue our support for research into the benefits of pet ownership. PAWS is another example of how dogs can bring so much value to people’s lives and in such diverse ways.”

 

More information and interview requests contact:

Ben Seal                                          Sonya Friesen
Palin Communications                      Palin Communications
0402 386 392                                  0423 495 392
ben@palin.com.au                          sonya@palin.com.au

 

References

  1. O’Haire, M, McKenzie, S, McCune S, Slaughter V (2013)  Effects of Classroom Animal-Assisted Activities on Social Functioning in Children with Autism Spectrum Disorder. The journal of alternative and complementary medicine. Volume 20, No.3, pp 162-168
  2. Autism Spectrum Australia. Factsheet (accessed 11th March 2015)
  3. Brugha, T., McManus, S., Bankart, J., Scott, F., Purdon, S., Smith, J., et al. (2011). Epidemiology of autism spectrum disorders in adults in the community in England. Archives of General Psychiatry, 68(5), 459-466.
  4. Taylor, J., Seltzer, M. (2011). Employment and post-secondary educational activities for young adults with autism spectrum disorder during transition to adulthood. Journal of Autism and Developmental Disorders, 41, 566-574.

 

Notes to Editors:

Mars Petcare Australia

Mars Petcare is the world’s leading pet food and veterinary care business that strives to make A Better World for Pets® every day. Mars Petcare believes that pets make our lives better and that pet ownership brings joy and benefits which should be accessible to everyone. Mars Petcare has a number of leading brands including PEDIGREE®, WHISKAS®, DINE®, ADVANCED®, OPTIMUM®, SCHMACKOS®, ROYAL CANIN®, EUKANUBA®, IAMS®. Key specialty brands include the WALTHAM Centre for Pet Nutrition®, a leading scientific authority on pet nutrition and wellbeing.  Mars Petcare has more than 37,000 Associates worldwide.

Assistance Dogs Australia

Founded in 1996, Assistance Dogs Australia is a national charity which trains Labradors and Golden Retrievers to offer freedom and independence for children and adults throughout Australia with disability.  The dogs are trained to support a range of physical and developmental disability, from paraplegia and cerebral palsy to autism and post traumatic stress disorder.

Through an accredited training program, these incredible dogs aptly learn how to master more than 50 specialized commands - from loading a washing machine and opening doors to developing the communication and empathy of a child with autism.

To train each dog to this level takes two years and costs in excess of $27,000. To date more than 190 Assistance Dogs have been placed throughout Australia, free of charge, providing up to 10 years of support for every client matched with an Assistance Dog.  The charity is currently supporting 55 families across the country who have a child diagnosed with autism. The charity receives no government funding so relies heavily on the generosity of individuals and community support to carry out this work.

About the WALTHAM® Centre for Pet Nutrition:

Celebrating over 50 years of innovative science, the WALTHAM® Centre for Pet Nutrition serves as a leading scientific authority in advancing the frontiers of research into the nutrition and health of companion animals. Located in Leicestershire, England, the renowned state-of-the-art science institute for Mars, Incorporated generates knowledge that enables the development of innovative products that meet pets’ needs in a practical way. Since the publication of its first original research in 1963, WALTHAM® has pioneered many important breakthroughs in the field of pet nutrition and human-animal interaction, resulting in more than 1,700 publications, including over 600 peer-review scientific papers. Today, WALTHAM® continues to collaborate with the world’s foremost scientific institutes, driving Mars' Petcare vision to create a better world for pets and providing the science and expertise that underpins leading Mars brands such as WHISKAS®, PEDIGREE®, NUTRO®, TRILL®, CESAR®, SHEBA®, KITEKAT®, DREAMIES™, AQUARIAN®, WINERGY®, BANFIELD® Pet Hospital and the ROYAL CANIN brand.

 

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Blog: Animal-Assisted Intervention

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By: Professor Marguerite O’Haire

For many people, there is something uniquely positive about pet-ownership. From the elderly man who walks his loyal dog every morning, to the young woman whose kitten makes the transition to a new city easier, the joy of pet-ownership can make going about daily business an easier more fulfilling experience.

However, to some, pet ownership extends further than the simple day-to-day experiences. It may help to promote mental and psychological development and become a significant force in someone’s life.

In recent years, researchers have begun to investigate the relationship between animal-assisted intervention and autism in children. Often diagnosed in childhood, autism can severely impact the social skills that children develop in their first few years of school. While most Aussie kids spend their elementary school days playing sport, learning how to interact with classmates and forging lifelong friendships, children with autism often struggle to participate and can face social exclusion. When isolated, school can become a lonely, difficult experience for children with autism of which there are an estimated 230,000 in Australia.1

Studies over the last ten years have showcased how animals, especially horses and dogs, can help to foster the connection needed to assist children with autism in their social development. Whether providing them with a furry friend or helping to facilitate social interactions with other people, research suggests that four-legged friends may do more good then we realise. Studies have provided initial evidence that animal-assisted intervention may provide a complementary tool to enhance autism care in early childhood.

In 2013, WALTHAM and The University of Queensland conducted a landmark project that studied exposure to animal-assisted activities and its effects on children with autism. Over a period of 8 weeks, the study showed that the animals improved the children’s social functioning. Both teachers and parents reported that their children who participated in the project showed more confidence when approaching others, and decreases in their withdrawal behaviours. This marked a step forward in the field of animal-assisted intervention. 2

Coinciding with a growing body of research supporting animal-assisted intervention, more programs are being developed every day that leverage animals as a partner for helping children with autism.

Assistance Dogs Australia (ADA) recently kick-started a new initiative, PAWS (Parents Autism Workshops and Support) that partners 18-week-old golden retriever or lab puppies with families of a child with autism. The program focuses on enabling the development of both the puppy and person – building a relationship between the family and the puppy early and helping to forge a bond that acts as an important coping mechanism for the child, bettering the chances of social development. 3

The PAWS program and their furry little recruits are currently working with and supporting over 55 families and have seen a positive response so far.

Whether it’s a cute and energetic puppy, a gentle horse or even a guinea pig, animals have been reported to support and enhance the lives of humans in numerous ways. The field of animal-assisted intervention continues to be explored by researchers worldwide, and requires continued rigorous scientific attention to validate the outcomes reported by those who have experienced it.

Resources

  1. Autism Spectrum Australia. Factsheet (accessed 11th March 2015)
  2. O’Haire, M, McKenzie, S, McCune S, Slaughter V (2013) Effects of Classroom Animal-Assisted Activities on Social Functioning in Children with Autism Spectrum Disorder. The journal of alternative and complementary medicine. Volume 20, No.3, pp 162-168
  3. More information: http://www.assistancedogs.org.au/pages/paws-program.html

 

 

 

 

 

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When Doctors’ Orders are to Adopt a Pet: New Report Calls for Creative Solutions to help Senior Citizens’ Benefit from Pet Ownership

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Creative solutions can enable older adults to spend more time with pets enjoying the emotional and physical benefits that this bonding experience can bring. Researchers at the WALTHAM® Centre for Pet Nutrition, University of Montana and The Ohio State University have released new recommendations that highlight potential solutions to overcome both perceived and real barriers to pet ownership.

Scientists Reinforce Health Benefits of Human-Animal Interaction, Particularly for Older Adults

Creative solutions can enable older adults to spend more time with pets enjoying the emotional and physical benefits that this bonding experience can bring. Researchers at the WALTHAM® Centre for Pet Nutrition, University of Montana and The Ohio State University have released new recommendations that highlight potential solutions to overcome both perceived and real barriers to pet ownership.

Existing schemes to help older adults include financial help with adoption fees, home delivery of pet food (Meals on Wheels for pets) and programs to help look after or rehome pets if adults become unable to care for them. New solutions could include ‘pet-adoption prescriptions’ for older adults affected with grief or isolation, trial adoptions from shelters and guidance on pet species and breed to match the individual’s needs.

“Many older adults would love to spend time with a pet and would benefit greatly from the positive effects the companionship brings, yet they worry about how they can afford or care for a pet,” said Sandra McCune, PhD, Head of Human Animal Interaction Research at WALTHAM®. “In many cases, these barriers are easy to overcome. This new report shines a light on the services that exist, and inspires communities, institutions and policymakers to find new and innovative solutions. We envision a future in which fostering human-animal bonds is no longer seen as alternative care, but a standard of care.”

To find out more about the WALTHAM® Centre for Pet Nutrition, click here.

Media contact: Abigail Stevenson. 

Telephone:  44 7966 920486  Email: Abigail.stevenson@effem.com

About the WALTHAM® Centre for Pet Nutrition:

Celebrating over 50 years of innovative science, the WALTHAM® Centre for Pet Nutrition serves as a leading scientific authority in advancing the frontiers of research into the nutrition and health of companion animals. Located in Leicestershire, England, the renowned state-of-the-art science institute for Mars, Incorporated generates knowledge that enables the development of innovative products that meet pets’ needs in a practical way. Since the publication of its first original research in 1963, WALTHAM® has pioneered many important breakthroughs in the field of pet nutrition and human-animal interaction, resulting in more than 1,700 publications, including over 600 peer-review scientific papers. Today, WALTHAM® continues to collaborate with the world’s foremost scientific institutes, driving Mars' Petcare vision to create a better world for pets and providing the science and expertise that underpins leading Mars brands such as WHISKAS®, PEDIGREE®, NUTRO®, TRILL®, CESAR®, SHEBA®, KITEKAT®, DREAMIES™, AQUARIAN®, WINERGY®, BANFIELD® Pet Hospital and the ROYAL CANIN brand.

About Mars, Incorporated:

Based in McLean, Virginia, Mars has net sales of more than $33 billion, six business segments including Petcare, Chocolate, Wrigley, Food, Drinks, Symbioscience, and more than 75,000 Associates worldwide that are putting its Principles into action to make a difference for people and the planet through its performance.

Mars brands include: Petcare – PEDIGREE®, ROYAL CANIN®, WHISKAS®, BANFIELD® Pet Hospital, CESAR®, SHEBA®, DREAMIES® and NUTRO®; Chocolate – M&M’S®, SNICKERS®, DOVE®, GALAXY®, MARS®, MILKY WAY® and TWIX®; Wrigley – DOUBLEMINT®, EXTRA®, ORBIT® and 5™ chewing gums, SKITTLES® and STARBURST® candies, and ALTOIDS® AND LIFESAVERS® mints.  Food – UNCLE BEN’S®, DOLMIO®, EBLY®, MASTERFOODS®, SEEDS OF CHANGE® and ROYCO®; Drinks – ALTERRA COFFEE ROASTERS™, THE BRIGHT TEA COMPANY™, KLIX® and FLAVIA®; Symbioscience – COCOAVIA® and WISDOM PANEL®.

For more information, please visit mars.com.  Follow us: facebook.com/mars, twitter.com/marsglobal, youtube.com/mars, linkedin.com/company/mars

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BLOG POST: Love Your Pet Day: Celebrating our furry and feathered friends

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by Kersti Seksel, 
BVSc (Hons) MRCVS MA (Hons) FACVSc DACVB DECAWBM
Registered Veterinary Specialist, Behavioural Medicine



 

They stand by our side when we find ourselves angry, offer a shoulder (or a furry paw) when we’re stressed  after an especially hard day at work, and they share in our joy when we’re exuberantly happy. From the second we open our eyes in the morning to the moment we turn the television off and head to bed in the evening, our pets shower us with unconditional, unrelenting love all day, everyday – 365 days a year.

In fact, not only do our pets provide us with support and encouragement, but an abundance of research into human-animal interaction has shown that pets provide their human owners with incredible health benefits. Pet owners are said to live happier and healthier lives then their non- pet owning counterparts.

Especially within recent years, the positive relationship between human health and pet ownership has been observed in a number of health-related disciplines including exercise, mental health and physical health. While dog ownership is said to encourage over two hours of extra physical activity every week (1), pet ownership in general has been suggested to improve patient survival after a heart attack (2), help reduce stress and reduce overall blood pressure (3).  Research out of the Waltham Centre for Pet Nutrition, a centre funded by Mars Petcare, suggests that pets help us retain health and mobility into old age and that a pet’s presence can help us to engage with new people and helps to strengthen communities. (4)

Love Your Pet Day, celebrated right across the globe, falls on February 20 2015 and offers pet owners an opportunity to recognise the immeasurable benefits and love that our furry or feathered partners provide us with every day. Whether it’s an extra long walk or a cheeky bacon treat, Love Your Pet Day encourages pet owners and pet lovers worldwide to pay special attention to their pet companions;  to try and give back even a fraction of the unconditional love -that they show us on a daily basis.

Australia has a reputation as one of the most pet-friendly countries in the world. Over 50 per cent of the country’s residents own a pet of some kind. However, as external factors start to influence living and work life, it is more important then ever for Australia and Australians to remain pet-friendly and therefore allow current and future pet owners to continue enjoying the many advantages of having a companion animal in their lives. 

It comes as no surprise that pet ownership is quite the commitment. Pets need consistent attention and a positive environment in order to flourish and live as happily and healthily as possible. Australian citizens are becoming busier, working longer hours and have less time to spend at home. Major metropolitan cities are becoming increasingly vertical; apartment and condo living is consistently on the rise, thus limiting the space that people and their pets have to roam.

Love Your Pet Day not only presents pet owners with a chance to show their furry friend some extra love, but encourages Australia to consider its ‘pet policies’ and ensure that it maintains its status as a leading pet-friendly country.

A pet-friendly country supports and allows more pet owners to benefit from the incredible health benefits that pets provide. As research into this subject continues, and as more comparisons and analytics continue to be divulged, animal companionship remains an effective tool for coping with the ups and downs of everyday life.

This Love Your Pet Day, reflect on how your special friend has improved your own life. Perhaps they help you get outside after a long workday or perhaps they offer emotional support during tough times. One thing remains indisputable; our pets deserve the same love and attention that they show us.. So as you celebrate Love Your Pet Day this year with an extra treat or a committed hour of playtime, consider how you can make it ‘Love Your Pet Day’ for your pet each and everyday.

ABOUT THE AUTHOR:
Dr Kersti Seksel is a registered Veterinary Specialist in Behavioural Medicine. She works in Seaforth, NSW and she has learnt a lot from her two special needs dogs, Indi and Tina.

References

  1. Christian et al., (2012) Understanding the relationship between dog ownership and children's physical activity and sedentary behaviour. Pediatric Obesity. doi: 10.1111/j.2047-6310.2012.00113. (available here)
  2. Levine et al., (2013) Pet ownership and cardiovascular risk: A scientific statement from the American Heart Association. Circulation 127:2353–2363 (available here)
  3. Friedmann et al., (2013) Pet's presence and owner's blood pressures during the daily lives of pet owners with pre- to mild hypertension. Anthrozoos: A Multidisciplinary Journal of The Interactions of People & Animals, Volume 26, Number 4, December 2013, pp. 535-550(16) (available here)
  4. McCune et al (2014) Evolution of Research into the mutual benefits of human-animal interaction. Animal Frontiers. Volume 4, Number 3, December 2014, p 49-58. (available here).

 

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AUSTRALIAN SCIENTISTS SHOW PET LOVERS ARE HAPPIER AND HEALTHIER

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Love Your Pet Day (20th February) celebrates mutual benefits of pet ownership But experts worry pet numbers will decline if regulations continue to tighten.

Sydney, Australia –Whether it’s a dog or cat, fish or bird, owning a pet has been shown to give health benefits to their human owners, according to Australian pet experts on Love Your Pet Day this 20th February. 

Love Your Pet Day is observed worldwide and reminds pet owners to focus some special attention on their non-human partners. Pet owners are encouraged to thank their little friends and treat them to something special, such as their favorite food, an extra walk in the park, a visit to the office, or even a pet massage and fur trim. Research shows that Aussies who love their pet are likely to be repaid with a happier and healthier life.

The latest research into human-animal interaction shows that pet ownership might improve patient survival after a heart attack1, help with stress and reduce blood pressure2. Dog ownership has also been shown to encourage over two hours of extra physical activity every week3. There is even scientific evidence of the positive psychological benefits of pet ownership4. Overall, a wealth of research shows how pets can improve the physical and emotional health of children and adults of all ages.

Australian universities, in partnership with the Waltham Centre for Pet Nutrition and Mars Petcare, have for decades conducted globally recognised research into the positive benefits of pet ownership.

Dr Kersti Seksel, veterinary specialist at the Sydney Animal Behaviour Service, said: “Pet owners often mention the care and affection they give their pets and the sense of wellbeing they receive from having pets in their lives. It’s a mutually beneficial relationship that can help humans stay physically and emotionally healthy from childhood well into old age.”

Experts are concerned that changes in society such as more people renting homes and restrictions on walking dogs in public areas may reduce the number of pets in Australia.

Dr Kersti Seksel explained, “Pets need attention and the right environment to have a happy life. As we become busier and live in more built-up areas with restrictions on where pets can live and go, the number of pets in Australia may fall. As a country, Australia needs to remain pet friendly so current and future pet owners can experience the many advantages of having a companion animal in their lives.”

For those who don’t have pets, Love Your Pet Day is the perfect time to consider owning a pet, either by adopting from a rescue organisation or buying from a reputable animal breeder.

The Waltham Centre for Pet Nutrition, owned by Mars, has been a leading scientific authority on pet nutrition and wellbeing for fifty years. In 2013 alone, Waltham published 39 peer reviewed scientific papers. One revealed that structured interaction with dogs can help people with dementia.

More information and interview requests contact:

 

Ben Seal                                           Ishtar Schneider
Palin Communications                      Palin Communications
0402 386 392                                  0422 944 023
ben@palin.com.au                           ishtar@palin.com.au

 

References

  1. Levine et al., (2013) Pet ownership and cardiovascular risk: A scientific statement from the American Heart Association. Circulation 127:2353–2363 (available here)
  2. Friedmann et al., (2013) Pet's presence and owner's blood pressures during the daily lives of pet owners with pre- to mild hypertension. Anthrozoos: A Multidisciplinary Journal of The Interactions of People & Animals, Volume 26, Number 4, December 2013, pp. 535-550(16) (available here)
  3. Christian et al., (2012) Understanding the relationship between dog ownership and children's physical activity and sedentary behaviour. Pediatric Obesity. doi: 10.1111/j.2047-6310.2012.00113. (available here)
  4. O’Haire, M. (2010) Companion animals and human health: Benefits, challenges, and the road ahead. Journal of Veterinary Behavior: Clinical Applications and Research, 5(5), 226-234. (link)

 

Notes to Editors:

Mars Petcare Australia

Mars Petcare is the world’s leading pet food and veterinary care business that strives to make A Better World for Pets® every day. Mars Petcare believes that pets make our lives better and that pet ownership brings joy and benefits which should be accessible to everyone. Mars Petcare has a number of leading brands including PEDIGREE®, WHISKAS®, DINE®, ADVANCED®, OPTIMUM®, SCHMACKOS® ROYAL CANIN®, EUKANUBA® IAMS®. Key specialty brands include the WALTHAM Centre for Pet Nutrition®, a leading scientific authority on pet nutrition and wellbeing.  Mars Petcare has more than 37,000 Associates worldwide.

 

The Waltham Centre for Pet Nutrition

The Waltham Centre for Pet Nutrition is a leading scientific authority in pet nutrition and wellbeing and has been advancing the frontiers of scientific research into the nutrition and health of pets for over 50 years. Located in Leicestershire, England, the renowned state-of-the-art science institute focuses on the nutritional and behavioural needs of pets and their benefits to humans, enabling the development of innovative products which meet these needs in a practical way. In collaboration with the world’s foremost scientific institutes, WALTHAM has pioneered many important breakthroughs in pet understanding and nutrition and leverages this knowledge through Mars Petcare brands to make a better world for pets.

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