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Prototypes connect human diabetes with feline and canine diabetes in the context of animal-human bonds: an anthropological analysis

By M. Rock, P. Babinec

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Abstract

This study explored whether previous experiences with human diabetes influenced how people perceived and responded to the onset of diabetes in a companion animal, and if the experience of diabetic pet care might influence people's thinking and actions in relation to human health. We conducted a series of semi-structured interviews with sixteen (16) pet owners who had treated dogs and cats for diabetes, along with semi-structured interviews with seven (7) health care professionals and an appraisal of documentary sources. We found that talking with pet owners about their experience of diabetic pet care brought to the surface poignant reflections on human health and health care. They did not strictly separate human health from what they had learned in the course of caring for a companion animal, in other words, even as they recognized and honored species differences. These findings suggest that the anthropological concept of illness prototypes is relevant for the field of anthrozoology. Indeed, illness prototypes that cross species boundaries may prove useful for health researchers, animal welfare organizations, veterinarians, and professionals who treat human patients or who aim to promote human health.

Date 2010
Publication Title Anthrozoos
Volume 23
Issue 1
Pages 5-20
ISBN/ISSN 0892-7936
DOI http://dx.doi.org/10.2752/175303710X12627079939062
Language English
Author Address Population Health Intervention Research Centre, University of Calgary, 3330 Hospital Dr NW, Calgary, Alberta, T4N 4N1, Canada.mrock@ucalgary.ca
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Tags
  1. Animal diseases
  2. Animal health and hygiene
  3. Animal rights
  4. Animal welfare
  5. Anthrozoology
  6. Cats
  7. Diabetes
  8. Dogs
  9. Health
  10. interviews
  11. Mammals
  12. Nutritional disorders
  13. patients
  14. Pet ownership
  15. Pets and companion animals
  16. Primates
  17. researchers
  18. research personnel
  19. species differences
  20. Veterinarians
  21. Veterinary surgery