Research Topic

The Benefits and Challenges of Pets for Adults with Disability or Long-Term Health Conditions

About this Research Topic

A growing body of research has documented wide-ranging health benefits of human-animal interaction. For example, pets can be beneficial to people by increasing physical activity, improving mood and quality of life, and reducing loneliness. Though living with a pet is the most common type of human-animal interaction, much of our body of evidence is based on evaluations of animal-assisted interventions. Even less is known about the impact of living with a pet for adults with dementia, disability, or other chronic conditions. Understanding the benefits and challenges of pet ownership is needed to inform decisions about acquiring a new pet, providing ongoing care to a current pet, and/or facilitating options for community-based programs that promote interactions with pets (e.g., pet sitting, pet sharing, pet visitation). This line of research can inform our understanding of the key elements of positive relationships with pets and promote policies and programs that support the human-animal bond.

The goal of the proposed special issue is to bring together empirical research and review articles to increase our understanding of the benefits and challenges of having pets at home especially for adults affected by chronic conditions (e.g., dementia, chronic pain), or physical, intellectual, or developmental disabilities. A collection of articles based on new work that addresses this topic will inform our understanding of the key elements of positive relationships with pets and policies and programs that can support the human-animal bond. Previous research has demonstrated that rather than pet ownership alone, being involved in the day-to-day routine and care of pets provides meaningful benefits. An exploration of the role of pets is especially timely given the increase in pet ownership during the Covid-19 pandemic, a time of social isolation from family, coworkers, friends, and neighbors.

Manuscripts for this special topic should focus on the experience of living with pets and the associated benefits, challenges, as well as impacts on health. Manuscripts may focus on the experiences of adults living with chronic conditions (e.g., dementia, cancer), or physical, intellectual, or developmental disability. Papers addressing the experiences of adults caring for people of various ages living with chronic conditions or disabilities with pets are also encouraged. A focus on adults in the community without illness or disability in relation to the topic is also welcome. We also invite articles about the experience of pet ownership during the pandemic and the impact that pets may have had on wellbeing during this unique time of restrictions and isolation. Both quantitative and qualitative empirical studies and reviews are welcome, especially those that go beyond pet ownership (comparison of pet owners vs. non owners) to explore the care of, engagement with, and/or bond between human and animal. Articles based on secondary analysis of publicly available data that addresses the scope of this special issue are also welcome.


Keywords: Pets, pet ownership, companion animals wellbeing, disability, chronic conditions, health, caregiving


Important Note: All contributions to this Research Topic must be within the scope of the section and journal to which they are submitted, as defined in their mission statements. Frontiers reserves the right to guide an out-of-scope manuscript to a more suitable section or journal at any stage of peer review.

A growing body of research has documented wide-ranging health benefits of human-animal interaction. For example, pets can be beneficial to people by increasing physical activity, improving mood and quality of life, and reducing loneliness. Though living with a pet is the most common type of human-animal interaction, much of our body of evidence is based on evaluations of animal-assisted interventions. Even less is known about the impact of living with a pet for adults with dementia, disability, or other chronic conditions. Understanding the benefits and challenges of pet ownership is needed to inform decisions about acquiring a new pet, providing ongoing care to a current pet, and/or facilitating options for community-based programs that promote interactions with pets (e.g., pet sitting, pet sharing, pet visitation). This line of research can inform our understanding of the key elements of positive relationships with pets and promote policies and programs that support the human-animal bond.

The goal of the proposed special issue is to bring together empirical research and review articles to increase our understanding of the benefits and challenges of having pets at home especially for adults affected by chronic conditions (e.g., dementia, chronic pain), or physical, intellectual, or developmental disabilities. A collection of articles based on new work that addresses this topic will inform our understanding of the key elements of positive relationships with pets and policies and programs that can support the human-animal bond. Previous research has demonstrated that rather than pet ownership alone, being involved in the day-to-day routine and care of pets provides meaningful benefits. An exploration of the role of pets is especially timely given the increase in pet ownership during the Covid-19 pandemic, a time of social isolation from family, coworkers, friends, and neighbors.

Manuscripts for this special topic should focus on the experience of living with pets and the associated benefits, challenges, as well as impacts on health. Manuscripts may focus on the experiences of adults living with chronic conditions (e.g., dementia, cancer), or physical, intellectual, or developmental disability. Papers addressing the experiences of adults caring for people of various ages living with chronic conditions or disabilities with pets are also encouraged. A focus on adults in the community without illness or disability in relation to the topic is also welcome. We also invite articles about the experience of pet ownership during the pandemic and the impact that pets may have had on wellbeing during this unique time of restrictions and isolation. Both quantitative and qualitative empirical studies and reviews are welcome, especially those that go beyond pet ownership (comparison of pet owners vs. non owners) to explore the care of, engagement with, and/or bond between human and animal. Articles based on secondary analysis of publicly available data that addresses the scope of this special issue are also welcome.


Keywords: Pets, pet ownership, companion animals wellbeing, disability, chronic conditions, health, caregiving


Important Note: All contributions to this Research Topic must be within the scope of the section and journal to which they are submitted, as defined in their mission statements. Frontiers reserves the right to guide an out-of-scope manuscript to a more suitable section or journal at any stage of peer review.

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Submission Deadlines

16 November 2021 Abstract
16 March 2022 Manuscript

Participating Journals

Manuscripts can be submitted to this Research Topic via the following journals:

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Topic Editors

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Submission Deadlines

16 November 2021 Abstract
16 March 2022 Manuscript

Participating Journals

Manuscripts can be submitted to this Research Topic via the following journals:

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