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'Pets have a healing effect on us': Vancouver vet clinic one of 6 in Canada to focus on human-animal bonding

And they make house calls.
The human-animal bond is now a type of veterinary care that you can be certified in.

There are six veterinarians in Canada with human-animal bond certifications and one of them is based in Vancouver.

Dr. Davis Wood, principal and veterinarian of Mulberry Lane Pet Wellness In-home Veterinary Care, is bringing this burgeoning form of animal care regulated by the North American Veterinary Community (NAVC) to Vancouver pet owners.

Human-animal bond care is exactly what it sounds like. It extends beyond medical treatment to consider the emotional well-being and relationship attachment between pets and caregivers. The NAVC site says that the method builds and maintains positive bonds influenced by the emotional, physical, and psychological interactions of animals and people.

“There are emotional and physical health benefits that come from human-pet interactions. Pets have a healing effect on us,” says Wood in a media release. “And that effect works both ways. That’s why our practice focuses on the human-animal bond and a Fear Free low-stress handling approach. We hold each pet’s emotional and physical well-being in mind as we provide care. We can’t treat one without the other.”

How does human-animal bond care work?

The Human Animal Bond Research Institute (HABRI) defines human-animal bond's as “a mutually beneficial and dynamic relationship between people and animals influenced by behaviours essential to the health and well-being of both. The behaviours include emotional, psychological, and physical interactions of people, animals, and the environment.”

Mulberry Lane claims that 106 out of 135 dogs (78.5 per cent) experience fear on the exam table at the traditional veterinary practice and believe that caring for pets in their own environments allows them to feel safe and poses fewer risks to themselves, caregivers and veterinarians.

“A veterinary exam can be a very stressful experience for pets,” said Dr. Wood. “With an in-home vet exam, you can feel more at ease knowing your pets are having a low-stress veterinary experience. The benefits to you and your pet include dedicated time with the veterinarian and an exam with personalized treatment and care,” says Wood.

Is it necessary?

Human-animal bond care offers advice around anxiety, behavioural issues, and communication which can be pretty opaque topics to tackle for first-time pet owners. The emotional and physical health of a pet can impact the quality of their connection with their owner and a solid connection can reduce the likelihood of behavioural and emotional issues, unmanaged pain and illness, age-related cognitive decline, fear, anxiety and stress related to the treatment of chronic health conditions.

How many people need/want this service?

According to Global Marketing Insights Inc., the mobile pet care market value is expected to exceed $1.6 billion by 2030 with an 8 per cent compound annual growth rate between 2022 and 2030.

The numbers come on the heels of a 2020 study by the Canadian Veterinary Medical Association which predicts a veterinarian shortage of up to 35 per cent within the next 15 years. Compounded with the changing attitudes around pet ownership and rearing and an increased amount of pet surrenders, the new method of veterinary care taps into the intersection of the market that cares deeply about animal wellness.