Background: Numerous studies indicate that companion animal ownership is associated with a range of physical, psychological and social health advantages, yet there is little discussion around the practical ways to integrate companion animals into healthcare and health promotion.
Objective: This article provides a brief summary of the health related aspects of companion animal ownership, and suggests ways in which general practitioners can integrate discussions regarding pet interaction into everyday practice.
Discussion: The subject of companion animals can be a catalyst for engaging patients in discussions about preventive health. General practitioners are in an ideal position to understand the human-pet dynamic, and to encourage patients to interact with their pets to improve their own health and wellbeing. Questions relating to companion animals could be asked during routine social history taking. The knowledge gained from this approach may facilitate more tailored patient management and personalised lifestyle recommendations.