As veterinarians, we support not only our patients but also the millions of humans who share their lives with animals. Veterinarians and their colleagues are accustomed to being reminded that the veterinary profession is built on human connections with animals, and we recognize that the human-animal bond is important in all settings.1,2 In terms of academic theory and practical application, however, the human-animal bond approach is most advanced in the area of companion animals.
The benefits of promoting the human-animal bond in companion animal practice are, by now, quite clear.3 It has, for example, been shown that the bond between owners and their pets has an important influence on the care those pets receive, that owners who have the strongest bonds with their pets are more likely to accept health-care recommendations from their veterinarian, and that highly bonded owners visit their veterinarian more often and are more likely to seek preventive care.4
For veterinarians in companion animal practice, however, it can sometimes be unclear how the human-animal bond can be incorporated into everyday practice activities. For those veterinarians, focusing on client communication and animal handling provides practical methods for emphasizing the human-animal bond.
Dr. Hart's contribution was partially funded by the Center for Companion Health, School of Veterinary Medicine, University of California, Davis (2009-54-F/M).
This manuscript represents work the authors completed in their role as members of the AVMA Steering Committee on Human-Animal Interactions (SCHAI).
The authors thank Drs. Lynette Hart and Emily Patterson-Kane for assistance in drafting and reviewing the manuscript.
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