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Human-animal interactions and animal productivity and welfare

By Paul H. Hemsworth, Grahame J. Coleman

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In most walks of life humans frequently interact with animals and in many situations these interactions are such that relationships develop between humans and animals. The human–companion animal relationships that are so common in Western society households are an excellent example of the intense and close relationships that may develop between humans and animals. Some of the benefits that the relationship offers to both partners are recognized. It is obvious that pets are critically dependent on humans for their care and maintenance; however, there is growing appreciation of the benefits that companion animals may have on the physical and psychological health of their owners. In an extensive review of research on the relationship between dogs and human health, Wells (2007) concluded that although not all studies in this area have been methodologically robust, the studies suggest that dogs can assist in the prevention of illness in their owners. For instance dog owners, as a group, tend to be a healthier cohort of individuals than non-owners in terms of both minor physical ailments and more serious medical conditions, such as coronary heart disease. Furthermore, Wells (2007) concluded that dogs may facilitate their owners' recovery from certain types of ailment, including coronary heart disease. In relation to psychological health, Wells (2007) concluded that dogs may assist the psychological well-being of patients in hospitals and residential nursing homes on the basis of assessments of patients being 'happy, alert and socially responsive'. In relation to children, there is evidence that pet ownership may improve social competence (Edney, 1992). In contrast, there is less appreciation, both within the general community and, to some extent, within the livestock industries, of the implications of human–animal relationships in livestock production.


Deborah Maron

Publication Title Human-Livestock Interactions: The Stockperson and the Productivity and Welfare of Intensively Farmed Animals
Pages 47-83
Publisher CAB International
Language English
Cite this work

Researchers should cite this work as follows:

  1. Animal welfare
  2. Birds
  3. Cattle
  4. Farm animals
  5. Gender
  6. Health
  7. Laboratory and experimental animals
  8. Relationships
  9. Stress response
  10. young animals