FAIRFAX, VA (CBS) — Want to improve your health and lower health care costs? According to a study out of George Mason University, you may want to try getting a pet.
Researchers took a look at the human-animal bond (HAB) to estimate health care cost savings that can be attributed to pet ownership.
“We can make conservative estimates of the contributions of pet ownership to lowering total healthcare spending. First, fewer physician office visits by pet owners; and two, reduced incidence of obesity among dog owners who frequently walk their pets,” researchers say.
Studies from multiple nations report that pet owners go to a physician less often than non-owners. The average cost of a physician office visit is around $139, according to the study.
Furthermore, the study says, “the incidence of obesity among people who regularly walk their dogs is five percent lower than non-pet owners, which results in decreasing obesity-related healthcare spending by $419 million per year.”
Researchers conclude, “The preponderance of research suggests that pet owners in the United States enjoy many positive health outcomes including lower stress, improved cardiovascular health, enhanced sense of well-being, reduced allergic sensitivities, and many other physical and mental health benefits.”