Companion Animals

Photographic Competition


The International Federation on Ageing and Bayer invited amateur and professional photographers around the world to join in highlighting the benefits of companion animals on the health of older adults by taking part in an international photographic competition under the theme #CompanionAnimals.

This photo competition draws attention to the 2014 released report entitled, “Companion Animals and the Health of Older Persons,” demonstrating the multiple therapeutic benefits of companion animals. Photo entries were judged not only on their photographic merit but on how they demonstrate the therapeutic benefits of companion animals for older adults.

After showcasing the top twenty finalists at the Global Conference, we are pleased to now announce the winners of the photo contest, as voted by Conference attendees. Congratulations to all!


First Place – Tie – Julie Williams, Florence Ley, and Marlowe the Dog

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First Place – Tie – Supriya Biswas

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Third Place – Allison Reid and Heather the Dog

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Congratulations to the top 20 finalists on their incredible photos and demonstration of physical, emotional, psychological and social benefits that companion animals bring to older adults:

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Allison Reid & Heather - Pawprints on our Heart. Harvey and Heather met 5 years ago, when German Shepherd, Harvey was just a 4 month old puppy. Delta Society volunteer, Daphne had been visiting Heather with her first therapy dog, Elli for a number of years. Unfortunately, she lost Elli quite suddenly to cancer and Heather mourned her loss as much as Daphne. To help them both recover, the nursing home staff allowed Daphne to take Harvey in to see Heather and a number of the other residents. Harvey was your typical boisterous, playful, young German Shepherd pup who just loved life and could not stay still. From the first time Heather and Harvey met, they loved each other. Harvey never attempted to get on any other bed, and still doesn’t. He was, and still is, content to lie on Heather’s bed for as long as she wishes him to be there. He does not look for treats or any other reward, apart from the pats and cuddles that his best friend willingly gives him. Harvey has the remarkable ability to always bring a smile to Heather’s face just by being there. He demonstrates the human-animal bond remarkably improves our quality of life and leaves a lasting paw print on our hearts.


 Measuring the Benefits: Infographic Series

The IFA in collaboration with Bayer Animal Health is pleased to launch a six-part infographic series based on Companion Animals and the Health of Older Persons.

World Cancer Day

companion-animals-feb-infographicThe first infographic features the multifaceted benefits of Companion Animals to health care systems in terms of cost savings, emotional support and early cancer detection.  Emerging studies have shown that dogs can smell minute odours associated with many cancers, and can sniff out cancers with 90% accuracy.  The infographic can be viewed here.

Partners: Human Animal Bond Research Initiative (HABRI) Foundation

World Glaucoma Week

IFA Companion Animals Infographic Series - World Glaucoma Week-01The second infographic highlights the role of Companion Animals for improving social capital of older people, and assisting those with vision impairments.  In situations where diseases such as glaucoma result in vision loss, guide dogs act as a second pair of eyes to assist with daily tasks, such as fetching items, turning on lights or crossing the street.  The infographic can be viewed here.

Partners: International Society for Animal Assisted Therapy, Glaucoma Eyes International

World Health Day

IFA Companion Animals Infographic - World Health DayThe third infographic highlights the role of Companion Animals in improving the physical health of older people, and the role of veterinarians in supporting older people to care for their pets.  Over a one year period, older adults who lived with Companion Animals reported a slower deterioration in their ability to perform activities of daily living.  The infographic can be viewed here.

Partners: Human Animal Bond Research Initiative (HABRI) Foundation

International Nurses Day

IFA Companion Animals Infographic Series - International Nurses DayThe fourth infographic highlights the role of Companion Animals in long term care facilities as well as the important role of nurses in supporting therapy programs, through patient screening, consent, research and guidance. The infographic can be viewed here.

Partners: Canadian Nurses Association, European Association for Directors and Providers of Long-Term Care Services for the Elderly

World Elder Abuse Awareness Day

companion-animals-juneThe fifth infographic highlights the role of Companion Animals in fostering the development of age-friendly environments. Strong community bonds help prevent feelings of isolation in older people, and can help prevent and address instances of abuse. The infographic can be viewed here.

Partners: INPEA, The Pets for the Elderly Foundation, Elder Dog Canada, World Elder Abuse Awareness Day, Age Friendly Ireland

International Day of Friendship


The sixth and final infographic in the series outlines the importance of the human-animal bond for emotional, psychological, social and physical health of older people. The infographic can be viewed here.

Partners: One Health Initiative, American Association of Human-Animal Bond Veterinarians (AAH-ABV), Animal & Societies Institute, Federation of European Companion Animal Veterinary Associations (FECAVA), The World Small Animal Veterinary Association (WSAVA)

About the Report

This photographic competition has been launched in response to the published report Companion Animals and the Health of Older Persons. This report is the most extensive literature review to date of research undertaken in the field of companion animals and the health of older people. Encompassing published research from 1980 to 2013, it considers the impact on the physical, psychological, emotional and social health of older people, both in the community as pet owners and as residents of care facilities and other institutions to whom animals are introduced for recreational and therapeutic purposes. The economic impact of companion animals is also considered. Despite limitations and gaps in the research caused by weak project design or poorly-controlled studies, the positive indicators of improvements to the health and well-being of older people are encouraging and affirm the value of future research in this field.

Full Report – Available in [English] and [Spanish]