The benefits of owning a pet – and the surprsing science behind it

Having a pet is proven to have health benefits, and having pets can help break up the anxiety and stress in your life. It’s also proven that owning a pet can give us emotions like joy and affection – which is important for their own sake. And just like humans, some people are more sensitive than others with their animals and therefore need a different type of animal that fosters the need they want to feel fulfilled.

What’s going on?

Yes, studies have had mixed results when it comes to whether pet ownership is related to an individual’s health. For example, some research shows that having a dog has positive results for your health, and other research suggests there’s no difference in the people who own pets and those who don’t purchase one. While more research suggests that owning a pet could even be bad for your health (and not just because you’re picking up their poop!). It boils down to determining when Petyon is the perfect match between you and your furry friend.

Anxiety and mood

Owners of pets know that they keep their life, and their good moods, buoyant. Whether it’s a random cuddling session with your pooch, or the calming presence of your favorite feline during a stressful event, pets provide emotional support for people during difficult times. There’s even research to back this up, and science has shown repeatedly that people have an immediate decrease in tension level around their pets. Obviously there’s some nuance behind this relationship – it depends on whether the pet came before the depression or was instrumental in alleviating its symptoms – but one thing remains certain: having a pet is by no means a guarantee against depression.

  • We won’t start writing the blog content until you review us.
  • Beginning of sentence: We wont start writing the blog content until you review us.
  • End of sentence: You’ll need to stop what you’re doing and give us feedback before we continue improving our website!

Therapy and emotional support

It’s nearly impossible to conduct randomized controlled trials in order to determine if pets have health impacts. However, some scientists had begun incorporating recently designed studies that could help us make better decisions. A recent study found children who read to a real animal showed more improvements in sharing, cooperation, volunteering and behavioral problems than children who read to a stuffed animal. Another study found autistic children were calmer with access to guinea pigs instead of toys. A 4-month-long randomized study at Vanderbilt University provided therapy dogs during cancer treatment and proved beneficial for both the children and grandparents but not for anxiety levels among the parents or their child’s pain tolerance.

Dogs and cardiovascular health

Dogs are beneficial to humans in many ways, and a study from last year found that dog ownership is linked to reduced mortality. The person was 24% less likely to die from any cause if the individual had a dog, 31% less likely if they had heart disease, 33% less likely in survivors of a heart attack or stroke, and 27% less likely if they lived alone after suffering a stroke. However, while there were cardio benefits on dogs only, it should be noted that pet owners also have to deal with monetary costs and responsibilities when getting one of their own.

Pets as ‘personalized medicine’?

Another way researchers are exploring pet interactions, said Mueller, are longitudinal studies. The idea is that huge numbers of people are followed over time, creating more precise information about why one particular animal would be a good fit for someone and their needs. One day it may even be possible to prescribe an animal for a specific person based on its traits in order to help train them and know just how beneficial the relationship could be. Maybe we’ll finally have data to put behind the “cat vs. dog” debate. Until then, fellow pet lovers, I intend to go back to what I intuitively know: my pets are some of the most loving “people” in my life, and that, in and of itself, is helpful to me.

One day, researchers might be able to prescribe a pet for a particular outcome. For now, more studies are being conducted so that we can understand why a certain animal might or might not make sense for a person and their needs. It’s been shown that one day there might be data to put behind the “cat vs. dog” debate, or be data to support why a bird, fish, lizard or gerbil is such an effective stress reliever.