Health Benefits and Health Cost Savings Due to Pets: Preliminary Estimates from an Australian National Survey
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American, Australian and British studies have shown that pet dogs and cats confer health benefits on their owners. This paper reports results from the first national survey (N = 1011) estimating the magnitude of these benefits. The survey showed that dog and cat owners make fewer annual doctor visits and are less likely to be on medication for heart problems and sleeping difficulties than non-owners. An important public policy implication is that pet ownership probably reduces national health expenditure. By linking sample survey results to data on health expenditure, the paper proposes a method of estimating savings. A preliminary estimate of savings of $988 million is given for Australia for financial year 1994--95.
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