By Cynthia K. Chandler, Delini M. Fernando, Casey A. Barrio Minton and Torey L. Portrie-Bethke
The purpose of the study was to explore the impact of pet ownership in order to identify domains of pet-owner wellness and to inform counselors of the value of exploring the owner-pet relationship with clients. A qualitative study was conducted using open-ended, semi-structured interviews. A consensual qualitative research approach was taken to analyze the data. Findings were organized into eight domains of pet-owner wellness impact: emotional and physical nurturance, sense of family, sense of responsibility and purpose, friendship or companionship, social interaction and connections, personal values and spiritual meaning, fun and play, and physical health. Although participants tended to discuss most pet-ownership impacts positively, some also cited negative impacts. Given the number of wellness areas that pet ownership can impact, counselors are encouraged to explore owner-pet relationships in the counseling process.