Pets have a tremendous impact on people’s lives. One way that pets affect clients’ lives is by providing unconditional love.
It is essential to retain veterinary clients in this increasingly competitive veterinary market in order for veterinary clinics to sustain profitability. This can be accomplished in a number of ways; veterinary clinics can offer additional services or products for pets, provide excellent customer service, and/or effectively communicate to their clients. When communication is specifically evaluated, veterinarians typically discuss methods that clients can utilize to maximize the health of their pets. However, have veterinarians considered communicating the benefits of having pets?
Clients can actually feel that love when they return home to an exciting greeting or cuddle up close to their pets and receive loving gazes. This establishes a solid, loving bond between people and their pets. Pets also help people feel as though they have purposes for their lives and experience fulfillment.
I observed this phenomenon when I interviewed pet parents in Central Park in New York City. I questioned them about the significance of their pets in their lives. One young man had a dog that he was walking and his eyes welled up with tears as he told me about his experience with his female dog. Years ago, his doctor informed him that he was HIV positive. He was so depressed that he remained in his bed all the time. One day a friend came to visit him with that dog and said, “Now you absolutely have to get out of the bed to walk this dog at least twice a day!” His love for his dog grew stronger over time and he realized that he wanted to get healthy so that he could be present for his dog. This ultimately placed him on a path back to wellness and happiness.
Veterinarians, as well as clients, may not know that having pets also decreases loneliness and enhances wellbeing due to the secretion of oxytocin. This is often evident when therapy pets visit nursing homes.
I can recall numerous instances when I took my dog to a nearby nursing home where my mother resided. I visited my mother pretty much every day and knew how much the residents delighted in seeing my dog Molly (they did not care about me, I was simply the means to get her there). I would walk Molly around the facility and they would scream out, “Molly! Come here Molly!” Some would respond that her visit was the highlight of their day and others would ask when she would be returning so that they could give her a portion of their meals.
There are plenty of studies about the benefits that service dogs provide. Some service dogs are companions of war veterans with Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder, or a child like Iyal, who was born with Fetal Alcohol Syndrome Disorder. In both of these instances, the service dog’s presence resulted in fewer outbursts, the ability to sleep through the night and increased calmness. In Iyal’s case he slept through the night and did not experience night terrors the initial night that his service dog, Chaucer, stayed with him. He also began to use words with multiple syllables and articulate his opinions after Chaucer was with him for just two weeks.
Social interactions and activities increase due to the presence of a pet in the home. This is not specific to dogs. There are social groups, such as Meetup, that have activities for people with snakes and rats, too.
In addition, clients may find that they experience increased self-esteem when they have pets, just as Owen did. He is a boy who resides in England and has Schwartz-Jampel Syndrome which results in joint contractures, myotonia, a short stature and other clinical signs as well as symptoms. This caused Owen to be very self-conscious and he disliked going out in public. His parents rescued an Anatolian Shepherd for Owen. When the dog was a puppy, he lost a hind limb when he was cruelly left on a railroad track and run over by a train. One unexpected result of this union was Owen’s increased self-confidence. He began to look up at people to tell them about his gigantic companion after they inquired about him.
Furthermore, there are a number of beneficial medical effects for people who have pets. One major, positive impact is the effect on their cardiovascular systems. Pet owners can have decreased heart rates, blood pressures, cholesterol, triglycerides and increase their longevity if they become heart attack victims.
Other medical benefits of pet parenting include a reduction in stress and cortisol levels. Various study results have demonstrated this when pets were in the vicinity of college students prior to taking examinations and employees who were allowed to have pets in their work environments. Pain studies also noted pain reduction in hospitalized patients and people with fibromyalgia when pets were present. In addition, a positive pet effect was observed in allergy studies. One study found that if infants were exposed to pet allergens, it decreased the probability that they would develop asthma by the time they became seven years old.
Furred and unfurred pets not only provide companionship, but they also bestow so many health benefits to humans. A healthy pet can lead to a healthy client. If veterinarians provide this information to their clients, it can strengthen their bond with them so that they and their pets can be a part of their veterinary practices for many years to come. +