Health perceptions and levels of attachment: Owners and pets exercising together

Mark B. Stephens*, Cindy C. Wilson, Jeffrey L. Goodie, F. Ellen Netting, Cara H. Olsen, Christopher G. Byers

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

16 Scopus citations


Background: Obesity is a parallel problem in canine and human populations. We describe health perceptions and levels of companion animal attachment in a cohort of dog owners. Methods: As part of a larger trial examining the impact of veterinary counseling on activity levels of dog owners and their pets, owners presenting to a veterinary referral center were asked to self-report perceived levels of health and attachment to their dog (Lexington Attachment to Pets Scale). Owner body mass index and the body conditioning score of the companion dog were also recorded. Results: Heavier pet owners reported a greater sense of attachment to their dogs. Heavier owners also reported lower perceived health and less social support. Conclusions: Increasing body mass index is associated with higher pet attachment, lower perceived health, and less social support. This information can impact wellness counseling for overweight pet owners and canine companions.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)923-926
Number of pages4
JournalJournal of the American Board of Family Medicine
Issue number6
StatePublished - Nov 2012


  • Human-Animal interaction
  • Obesity
  • Physical activity


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