Special Issue "The Impact of Companion Animals on Public Health"

A special issue of International Journal of Environmental Research and Public Health (ISSN 1660-4601). This special issue belongs to the section "Health Behavior, Chronic Disease and Health Promotion".

Deadline for manuscript submissions: closed (31 July 2020).

Special Issue Editors

Prof. Dr. Marie-Jose Enders-Slegers
Website
Guest Editor
Faculty of Psychology and Educational Sciences, The Open University, Heerlen, The Netherlands
Interests: the human-animal bond; animal-assisted interventions with vulnerable clients (autism, psychiatry, dementia); One Health/One Wellbeing; animal wellbeing in AAI
Dr. Karin Hediger
Website
Guest Editor
Faculty of Psychology, University of Basel, Missionsstrasse 62, 4055 Basel, Switzerland
Interests: human-animal interaction; biopsychosocial effects of animal-assisted interventions; One Health; neurorehabilitation; treatment

Special Issue Information

Dear Colleagues,

We are organizing a Special Issue on the impact of companion animals on public health in the International Journal of Environmental Research and Public Health. The venue is a peer-reviewed scientific journal that publishes articles and communications in the interdisciplinary areas of environmental health sciences and public health. For detailed information on the journal, we refer you to: https://www.mdpi.com/journal/ijerph.

Improving public health is an important objective for urban planners and policy makers. Public health refers to preventing disease, prolonging life, and promoting physical, mental, and social wellbeing. However, since (companion) animals and nature are an important part of the public domain, public health is depending on a 'one health' approach in which animal wellbeing, human wellbeing, and the environment participate. What role do (companion) animals (and nature) play in preventing disease, prolonging life, and promoting our physical, social, and psychological wellbeing?

This Special Issue is open to any subject area related to the impact of (companion) animals and nature on public health.

Prof. Dr. Marie-Jose Enders-Slegers
Dr. Karin Hediger
Guest Editors

Manuscript Submission Information

Manuscripts should be submitted online at www.mdpi.com by registering and logging in to this website. Once you are registered, click here to go to the submission form. Manuscripts can be submitted until the deadline. All papers will be peer-reviewed. Accepted papers will be published continuously in the journal (as soon as accepted) and will be listed together on the special issue website. Research articles, review articles as well as short communications are invited. For planned papers, a title and short abstract (about 100 words) can be sent to the Editorial Office for announcement on this website.

Submitted manuscripts should not have been published previously, nor be under consideration for publication elsewhere (except conference proceedings papers). All manuscripts are thoroughly refereed through a single-blind peer-review process. A guide for authors and other relevant information for submission of manuscripts is available on the Instructions for Authors page. International Journal of Environmental Research and Public Health is an international peer-reviewed open access semimonthly journal published by MDPI.

Please visit the Instructions for Authors page before submitting a manuscript. The Article Processing Charge (APC) for publication in this open access journal is 2300 CHF (Swiss Francs). Submitted papers should be well formatted and use good English. Authors may use MDPI's English editing service prior to publication or during author revisions.

Keywords

  • Public health
  • One Health
  • (Companion) animals
  • Walkability
  • Green spaces
  • Nature
  • Green care
  • Social participation
  • Aging
  • Embedding in community 
  • Social capital
  • Quality of life

Published Papers (14 papers)

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Research

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Open AccessArticle
Validation of the Human–Animal Interaction Scale (HAIS) in Czech Language
Int. J. Environ. Res. Public Health 2020, 17(20), 7485; https://doi.org/10.3390/ijerph17207485 - 15 Oct 2020
Abstract
Human–Animal interaction (HAI) refers to any contact between humans and animals. Despite the lack of standardized measures of evaluation, one possible tool is the Human Animal Interaction Scale (HAIS). This study aimed to evaluate it in Czech language and to verify its use [...] Read more.
Human–Animal interaction (HAI) refers to any contact between humans and animals. Despite the lack of standardized measures of evaluation, one possible tool is the Human Animal Interaction Scale (HAIS). This study aimed to evaluate it in Czech language and to verify its use in clinical settings. One group of participants included 85 non-clinical volunteers; the second included 22 clinical participants, who were hospitalized in a long-term inpatient department All participants filled out the HAIS, the Companion Animal Bonding Scale (CABS) and the Companion Animal Semantic Differential (CASD). The Czech HAIS achieved similarly good psychometric properties as the original scale. The Cronbach’s alpha showed strong internal consistency (α = 0.920) in the sample of volunteers, but low internal consistency (α = 0.656) in the group of clinical participants. In non-clinical volunteers, all scales and subscales correlated mutually at the p < 0.01 level. In the group of clinical participants, the CABS did not show significant correlations with other scales and subscales, nor was there a correlation of total HAIS score with the perceived rapport with animals. The findings of this study suggest that the Czech HAIS may be an effective tool for evaluating HAI with non-clinical contingents, however careful modification is suggested before clinical use. One reason for this is the difficulty in conducting some activities assessed by the scale in a clinical practice or hospital setting. Full article
(This article belongs to the Special Issue The Impact of Companion Animals on Public Health)
Open AccessArticle
Acceptability of AAI from the Perspective of Elderly Clients, Family Members, and Staff—A Pilot Study
Int. J. Environ. Res. Public Health 2020, 17(16), 5978; https://doi.org/10.3390/ijerph17165978 - 18 Aug 2020
Abstract
Although animal-assisted interventions (AAIs) are increasingly part of comprehensive rehabilitation and many of its effects are already well described, the methodology for performing AAI depends on the specific patient, animal, and treatment objective. Acceptability of AAI from all involved members is a little [...] Read more.
Although animal-assisted interventions (AAIs) are increasingly part of comprehensive rehabilitation and many of its effects are already well described, the methodology for performing AAI depends on the specific patient, animal, and treatment objective. Acceptability of AAI from all involved members is a little explored area. Thus, 214 respondents (32 AAI clients, 146 family members, and 36 healthcare and social care workers; 98 males, 116 females; mean age 46.3 years (±16.5 SD)) completed a list of statements focused on AAI with a dog. This list was distributed directly in nursing homes, retirement homes, and in households with home hospice care. All statements were rated on a Likert scale of 0–3. The results show that AAI is generally very well received, with over 90% of respondents considering AAI to be beneficial. The perception of AAI and trusting the handler with their dog was evaluated very positively, as well as possible concerns about hygiene. The results were in many cases affected by demographic factors of the respondents (age, gender, role in AAI, education, and size of settlement). It seems appropriate in future studies to focus on the attitude of individual groups, and thus advance the methodology of implementing AAI. Full article
(This article belongs to the Special Issue The Impact of Companion Animals on Public Health)
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Open AccessArticle
Social Development of Adults with Autism Spectrum Disorder During Dog-Assisted Therapy: A Detailed Observational Analysis
Int. J. Environ. Res. Public Health 2020, 17(16), 5922; https://doi.org/10.3390/ijerph17165922 - 14 Aug 2020
Abstract
Social communication and self-esteem are often affected in adults with autism spectrum disorder. Implementation and evaluation of interventions targeting social skills are challenged due to specific characteristics of autism. Intensive, valid evaluation of social skills programs is needed. In this explorative multiple case [...] Read more.
Social communication and self-esteem are often affected in adults with autism spectrum disorder. Implementation and evaluation of interventions targeting social skills are challenged due to specific characteristics of autism. Intensive, valid evaluation of social skills programs is needed. In this explorative multiple case study, we examined effects and working mechanisms of dog-assisted therapy on social communication and self-esteem, by analyzing detailed observations with Monte Carlo permutation tests (testing against 10,000 random samples) and using self- and other-reports in N=6 high-functioning adults with ASD. Results showed significant positive effects on secure body posture. There was an indication of improved self-esteem and more spontaneous touching of the dog, while no convincing increase was found for verbal initiatives. Cross-correlation analyses revealed that touching the therapy dog may be an important determinant to elicit social development in Animal Assisted Therapy (AAT). Considering preliminary results, we recommend exploring underlying mechanisms more thoroughly with real-time observations, accounting for possible gender-effects. Full article
(This article belongs to the Special Issue The Impact of Companion Animals on Public Health)
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Open AccessArticle
Dogs and Their Owners Have Frequent and Intensive Contact
Int. J. Environ. Res. Public Health 2020, 17(12), 4300; https://doi.org/10.3390/ijerph17124300 - 16 Jun 2020
Abstract
Contact and interactions between owners and their pets may have beneficial physical and social effects on people, but may also facilitate the transmission of zoonotic agents and resistant bacteria. To estimate the risk of these contacts, more information regarding the frequency and intensity [...] Read more.
Contact and interactions between owners and their pets may have beneficial physical and social effects on people, but may also facilitate the transmission of zoonotic agents and resistant bacteria. To estimate the risk of these contacts, more information regarding the frequency and intensity of this physical contact is required. Therefore, an online survey was conducted among pet owners resulting in 701 completed questionnaires. Questions regarding the interactions between dogs and owners were linked with a score from 1 (limited interactions) to 3 (highly intense interactions). After scoring these self-reported interactions, a contact intensity score was calculated for each respondent by summing up the different allocated scores from all questions. This contact intensity score was used to identify predictors of more intense contact based on a multivariable linear regression model. Interactions between dogs and their owners were widespread (e.g., 85.3% of the dogs licked their owner’s hand) and intense (e.g., 49.3% of owners reported being licked in the face). The gender, age, and place of residence (city, village, or countryside) of the respondent, together with the size and age of the dog, were significantly associated with the contact intensity score in the multivariable model. On average, female respondents younger than 65 years who lived in the city and had a small young dog had the most intense contact with it. Further research is necessary to evaluate the risk of these interactions in light of zoonotic and antimicrobial resistance transfer. Full article
(This article belongs to the Special Issue The Impact of Companion Animals on Public Health)
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Open AccessArticle
Patient Opinion of Visiting Therapy Dogs in a Hospital Emergency Department
Int. J. Environ. Res. Public Health 2020, 17(8), 2968; https://doi.org/10.3390/ijerph17082968 - 24 Apr 2020
Abstract
To date there have been no studies examining whether patients want emergency department (ED) therapy dog programs. This patient-oriented study examined the opinions of patients about whether they would want to be visited by a therapy dog in the Royal University Hospital ED. [...] Read more.
To date there have been no studies examining whether patients want emergency department (ED) therapy dog programs. This patient-oriented study examined the opinions of patients about whether they would want to be visited by a therapy dog in the Royal University Hospital ED. Cross-sectional survey data were collected over a six week period from a convenience sample of 100 adult patients who had not been visited by a therapy dog in the ED. Most (80%) indicated they would want a visit by a therapy dog as an ED patient. A higher proportion of individuals who currently have a pet dog (95%) or identify as having lots of experience with dogs (71%) were more likely to indicate this want compared to those without a dog (90%) or little to no experience with dogs (62%). The majority were also of the opinion that patients may want to visit a therapy dog in the ED to reduce anxiety (92%) and frustration (87%) as well as to increase comfort (90%) and satisfaction (90%) and to a lesser extent to reduce pain (59%). There was no significant difference in findings by gender or age, other than a higher proportion of older adults and females identifying cultural background and tradition as a possible reason that patients may not want to be visited by a therapy dog. The findings of this study can help guide considerations for future ED therapy dog programs. Full article
(This article belongs to the Special Issue The Impact of Companion Animals on Public Health)
Open AccessArticle
How Equine-Assisted Activities Affect the Prosocial Behavior of Adolescents
Int. J. Environ. Res. Public Health 2020, 17(8), 2967; https://doi.org/10.3390/ijerph17082967 - 24 Apr 2020
Cited by 1
Abstract
Multiple studies have investigated the positive effects of human–animal interactions and showed that animal-assisted activities can be successfully used to better human physical and mental health. Equine-assisted activities have also raised considerable attention within the field. Our research focuses on healthy students (aged [...] Read more.
Multiple studies have investigated the positive effects of human–animal interactions and showed that animal-assisted activities can be successfully used to better human physical and mental health. Equine-assisted activities have also raised considerable attention within the field. Our research focuses on healthy students (aged 14–18) without deviations or special educational needs. We analyze the occurrence of behavior problems and prosocial behavior among adolescents who regularly have interactions with horses, and those who have no connection to horses at all. The subjects of our investigation completed the strengths and difficulties questionnaire (SDQ), and we use a ‘quasi’ 2 × 2 before-after control-impact design to analyze the data. Students studying equine-related vocations and students of other vocations are compared, at the beginning and at the end of their studies. Our results indicate that students of equine-related vocations are more helpful and empathetic, and have fewer behavior problems, than those studying other vocations. There is a negative correlation between prosocial behavior and behavior problems. The development of the prosocial behaviors of students with regular horse–human interactions is more remarkable than of those who have no connection to horses. With these results, we are going to confirm the hypothesis that equine-assisted activities correlate with positive behavioral traits among healthy adolescents. Full article
(This article belongs to the Special Issue The Impact of Companion Animals on Public Health)
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Open AccessArticle
Effects of Proximity between Companion Dogs and Their Caregivers on Heart Rate Variability Measures in Older Adults: A Pilot Study
Int. J. Environ. Res. Public Health 2020, 17(8), 2674; https://doi.org/10.3390/ijerph17082674 - 13 Apr 2020
Cited by 1
Abstract
Heart rate variability (HRV) is a noninvasive tool used to evaluate autonomic nervous system function and is affected by age, stress, postural changes, and physical activity. Dog ownership has been associated with higher 24-hr HRV and increased physical activity compared to nonowners. The [...] Read more.
Heart rate variability (HRV) is a noninvasive tool used to evaluate autonomic nervous system function and is affected by age, stress, postural changes, and physical activity. Dog ownership has been associated with higher 24-hr HRV and increased physical activity compared to nonowners. The current pilot study was designed to evaluate the effects of proximity to a dog in real time (minute-by-minute) on older dog caregivers’ HRV measures and stress index during normal daily life over a 24-hr period. Eleven caregivers (56–83 years of age) wore ActiGraph GT9X Link accelerometers and camntech electrocardiogram monitors, and 11 dogs wore PetPace Collars and ActiGraph monitors to determine (a) proximity (absence or presence of Received Signal Strength Indicator, RSSI), (b) heart rate and HRV measures, (c) position (lying vs. sitting vs. standing), and (d) physical activity in the 11 dyads. Twenty-four hour HRV (SDNN index) and physical activity in the caregivers and dogs were related. Stress index was lower, and HRV parameters (SDNN, rMSDD, high frequency power (HF)) were higher when an RSSI signal was detected (presence of dog) compared to no RSSI signal (absence of dog) in the caregivers while inactive (lying + sitting + standing combined). HRV parameters (rMSDD and HF) were lower in the caregivers while standing and sitting compared to lying. The results from this pilot study support the hypothesis that spending time in the presence of a companion dog increases caregivers’ HRV throughout the day and suggest that proximity to a dog may contribute to overall improvements in 24-hr HRV and cardiac health in dog caregivers. Full article
(This article belongs to the Special Issue The Impact of Companion Animals on Public Health)
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Open AccessArticle
The Relationship between Dog Ownership, Psychopathological Symptoms and Health-Benefitting Factors in Occupations at Risk for Traumatization
Int. J. Environ. Res. Public Health 2020, 17(7), 2562; https://doi.org/10.3390/ijerph17072562 - 08 Apr 2020
Cited by 2
Abstract
Individuals working in high-risk occupations (e.g., emergency staff) are exposed to high levels of occupational stress including traumatic events. Correspondingly, several studies report high rates of mental health problems among these occupations. Pet ownership has been associated with better mental health. However, to [...] Read more.
Individuals working in high-risk occupations (e.g., emergency staff) are exposed to high levels of occupational stress including traumatic events. Correspondingly, several studies report high rates of mental health problems among these occupations. Pet ownership has been associated with better mental health. However, to date a study on the association between pet ownership and indicators of mental health in these occupations is missing. The present cross-sectional survey (N = 580) investigated pet ownership, attachment to pets, health-benefitting factors (i.e., sense of coherence, trait-resilience, locus of control) and psychopathological symptoms (i.e., general mental health problems, posttraumatic stress, burnout) in medical staff, police officers, and firefighters. Dog owners and non-dog owners showed comparable levels of psychopathological distress and health-benefitting factors. Compared to cat owners, dog owners demonstrated stronger emotional attachment to their pet. Moreover, a stronger attachment was also linked to higher levels of psychopathological symptoms and lower levels of health-benefitting factors. However, the relationship between attachment to pets and health-benefitting factors could be explained by their overlap with psychopathological symptom levels. Overall, our findings are not in line with the notion that pet ownership generally has a health-benefitting effect. Future studies need to investigate circumstances that modulate positive effects of pet ownership. Full article
(This article belongs to the Special Issue The Impact of Companion Animals on Public Health)
Open AccessArticle
Effect of Dog Presence on Stress Levels in Students under Psychological Strain: A Pilot Study
Int. J. Environ. Res. Public Health 2020, 17(7), 2286; https://doi.org/10.3390/ijerph17072286 - 28 Mar 2020
Abstract
As university students face many stressful situations, especially during the examination period, this study focused on the use of animal-assisted activities (AAAs) with a dog as a means of relieving students’ stress before a final exam. The aim was to determine whether a [...] Read more.
As university students face many stressful situations, especially during the examination period, this study focused on the use of animal-assisted activities (AAAs) with a dog as a means of relieving students’ stress before a final exam. The aim was to determine whether a 10-min interaction with a dog affected subjectively evaluated stress and mood, objective blood pressure, and heart rate. Ninety-three female students (mean age = 22.5 years; standard deviation = 3.8 years) were divided into three groups according to their preference. The first group underwent AAAs (n = 26), the second group chose a relaxation technique (n = 28), and the last one was a control group (n = 39). Physiological values were measured using a pressure gauge and the subjective feelings of stress and mood were evaluated by the Likert scale 1–5. The AAA group showed significant improvement after 10 min of interaction in both mood and stress, with no change in heart rate and blood pressure. The remaining groups showed a significant decrease in blood pressure, but not in heart rate, with different evaluations of mood and stress. AAAs with a dog appear to be effective in improving students’ mood and stress without affecting their physiological parameters. Full article
(This article belongs to the Special Issue The Impact of Companion Animals on Public Health)
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Open AccessArticle
Randomized Trial Examining Effects of Animal Assisted Intervention and Stress Related Symptoms on College Students’ Learning and Study Skills
Int. J. Environ. Res. Public Health 2020, 17(6), 1909; https://doi.org/10.3390/ijerph17061909 - 15 Mar 2020
Abstract
Animal Visitation Programs (AVPs) targeting college students’ stress and academic success have increased, despite limited research on academic outcomes. This randomized controlled trial (N = 349) examined the effects of incorporating levels of Human–animal Interaction (HAI) (0%, 50% or 100%) with therapy [...] Read more.
Animal Visitation Programs (AVPs) targeting college students’ stress and academic success have increased, despite limited research on academic outcomes. This randomized controlled trial (N = 349) examined the effects of incorporating levels of Human–animal Interaction (HAI) (0%, 50% or 100%) with therapy dogs in a four-week academic stress management program. Conditions included (1) Academic Stress Management (ASM) content only (0% HAI), (2) Human–animal Interaction only (100% HAI) and (3) equal combinations of ASM content and HAI (50% HAI). Intention-to-treat (ITT) analyses examined the effects of students’ risk status (N = 146; depression, anxiety, perceived stress, worry) and treatment condition on students’ learning and study strategies at posttest and follow-up. The results showed interactions between condition and risk status demonstrating higher posttest levels of WILL (i.e., anxiety, attitude, motivation) (Β = 0.582, p = 0.005) and SELFREGULATION (i.e., concentration, self-testing, study aids, time management) (Β = 0.501, p = 0.031) for at-risk students receiving equal combinations of HAI and content presentations. Moderation effects remained at follow-up (Β = 0.626, p = 0.005; Β = 0.630, p = 0.007). At-risk students receiving only HAI (100%) also showed higher levels of WILL at posttest (Β = 0.481, p = 0.021) and follow up (Β = 0.490, p = 0.038). University administrators should consider providing at-risk students with targeted programs with varying levels of HAI and ASM content, depending on the targeted academic outcome. Full article
(This article belongs to the Special Issue The Impact of Companion Animals on Public Health)
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Open AccessArticle
Parental Perception of Changes in Basic Life Needs of Children with Disabilities after Six Months of Therapeutic Horseback Riding: A Qualitative Study
Int. J. Environ. Res. Public Health 2020, 17(4), 1213; https://doi.org/10.3390/ijerph17041213 - 13 Feb 2020
Abstract
Therapeutic horseback riding (THR) has a positive effect on the physical, cognitive, and psychosocial functioning of children with disabilities. Parents’ reports of the effects of THR on their children support professionals in individualizing the THR program. With this qualitative study, we aimed to [...] Read more.
Therapeutic horseback riding (THR) has a positive effect on the physical, cognitive, and psychosocial functioning of children with disabilities. Parents’ reports of the effects of THR on their children support professionals in individualizing the THR program. With this qualitative study, we aimed to explore parents’ perceptions of changes in the basic life needs of their children with disabilities after six months of THR lessons and to survey parents’ explanations for the causes of these changes. The study involved parents of 13 children with disabilities who were enrolled in a six-month THR program. Parents continuously monitored their children and wrote a report on possible changes in their child’s needs according to Virginia Henderson’s need theory. Qualitative content analysis of parents’ reports indicated only positive changes in 11 children. Most codes were identified in categories “relationships and communication with other people” and “movement and posturing”. Other categories identified codes such as easier breathing, a better quality of sleep, better appetite, better elimination of stool and urine, more independence in clothing and maintaining personal hygiene, and greater interest in play and learning. Parents’ reports are further supported by the assessments of professionals. Most parents think THR is responsible for the noticeable improvements in their children’s quality of life. Full article
(This article belongs to the Special Issue The Impact of Companion Animals on Public Health)
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Review

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Open AccessReview
Psychodynamic Based Equine—Assisted Psychotherapy in Adults with Intertwined Personality Problems and Traumatization: A Systematic Review
Int. J. Environ. Res. Public Health 2020, 17(16), 5661; https://doi.org/10.3390/ijerph17165661 - 05 Aug 2020
Abstract
The growing field of equine-assisted psychotherapy (EAP), a subfield of animal-assisted psychotherapy (AAP), needs theoretically-based clinical studies. This systematic review examines the existing clinical studies in adult populations on psychodynamic psychotherapy combined with equine-assisted psychotherapy. An electronic database search was divided in two [...] Read more.
The growing field of equine-assisted psychotherapy (EAP), a subfield of animal-assisted psychotherapy (AAP), needs theoretically-based clinical studies. This systematic review examines the existing clinical studies in adult populations on psychodynamic psychotherapy combined with equine-assisted psychotherapy. An electronic database search was divided in two studies to identify publications on 1) EAP combined with psychodynamic psychotherapy and 2) EAP combined to personality problems and traumatization in order to compile studies by population, intervention, outcome and therapeutic assets. Study 1 revealed no relevant clinical studies on EAP with a psychodynamic background with an adult population. Study 2 revealed 12 publications to review predominantly addressing veterans with PTSD. The methodological limitations of most of the studies restrain the overall findings on outcome. However, overall positive effects for EAP, specifically on its experiential features and on finding interpersonal trust for patients, can be discerned. There is an apparent need for clinical studies meeting methodological standards on psychodynamic underpinned EAP methodologies in adults with intertwined personality problems and traumatization. Full article
(This article belongs to the Special Issue The Impact of Companion Animals on Public Health)
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Open AccessReview
A One Health Perspective on the Human–Companion Animal Relationship with Emphasis on Zoonotic Aspects
Int. J. Environ. Res. Public Health 2020, 17(11), 3789; https://doi.org/10.3390/ijerph17113789 - 27 May 2020
Cited by 3
Abstract
Over time the human–animal bond has been changed. For instance, the role of pets has changed from work animals (protecting houses, catching mice) to animals with a social function, giving companionship. Pets can be important for the physical and mental health of their [...] Read more.
Over time the human–animal bond has been changed. For instance, the role of pets has changed from work animals (protecting houses, catching mice) to animals with a social function, giving companionship. Pets can be important for the physical and mental health of their owners but may also transmit zoonotic infections. The One Health initiative is a worldwide strategy for expanding collaborations in all aspects of health care for humans, animals, and the environment. However, in One Health communications the role of particularly dogs and cats is often underestimated. Objective: Evaluation of positive and negative One Health issues of the human–companion animal relationship with a focus on zoonotic aspects of cats and dogs in industrialized countries. Method: Literature review. Results: Pets undoubtedly have a positive effect on human health, while owners are increasing aware of pet’s health and welfare. The changing attitude of humans with regard to pets and their environment can also lead to negative effects such as changes in feeding practices, extreme breeding, and behavioral problems, and anthropozoonoses. For the human, there may be a higher risk of the transmission of zoonotic infections due to trends such as sleeping with pets, allowing pets to lick the face or wounds, bite accidents, keeping exotic animals, the importation of rescue dogs, and soil contact. Conclusions: One Health issues need frequently re-evaluated as the close human–animal relationship with pet animals can totally differ compared to decennia ago. Because of the changed human–companion animal bond, recommendations regarding responsible pet-ownership, including normal hygienic practices, responsible breeding, feeding, housing, and mental and physical challenges conforming the biology of the animal are required. Education can be performed by vets and physicians as part of the One Health concept. Full article
(This article belongs to the Special Issue The Impact of Companion Animals on Public Health)
Open AccessReview
Association between Pet Ownership and Obesity: A Systematic Review and Meta-Analysis
Int. J. Environ. Res. Public Health 2020, 17(10), 3498; https://doi.org/10.3390/ijerph17103498 - 17 May 2020
Cited by 1
Abstract
Obesity is a major risk factor for lifestyle-related diseases, including cardiovascular disease, type 2 diabetes, and hypertension. Several studies have investigated the association between pet ownership and obesity, but the findings have been inconsistent. This systematic literature review and meta-analysis assessed the association [...] Read more.
Obesity is a major risk factor for lifestyle-related diseases, including cardiovascular disease, type 2 diabetes, and hypertension. Several studies have investigated the association between pet ownership and obesity, but the findings have been inconsistent. This systematic literature review and meta-analysis assessed the association between pet ownership and obesity. Using PubMed and Scopus, we overviewed the literature published until December 2019 and selected pertinent data for meta-analysis. Two independent reviewers extracted the data. Pooled relative risks (RRs) with 95% confidence intervals (CIs) for obesity were calculated using the random-effects model with inverse-variance weighting. The 21 included articles were cross-sectional studies. Five publications (nine analyses) that reported adjusted RRs for BMI ≥ 25 were included in the meta-analysis. No significant association existed between pet ownership and obesity (pooled RR = 1.038; 95% CI, 0.922–1.167; I2 = 51.8%). After stratification by age group (children vs. adults), no significant association was detected (pooled RR = 0.844; 95% CI, 0.604–1.179; I2 = 64.1% vs. pooled RR = 1.099; 95% CI, 0.997–1.212; I2 = 25.2%). Similarly, no significant association was observed between dog ownership and obesity, indicating no association between pet ownership and obesity. However, no infer causation can be reported because all studies included in this meta-analysis were cross-sectional. Therefore, further prospective studies are needed. Full article
(This article belongs to the Special Issue The Impact of Companion Animals on Public Health)
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