I keep hearing that pets help us live longer and healthier, so today I decided to research this a little.
There are lots of studies which show the benefits of pet (mainly cat and dog) ownership. The benefits have included:
- Lower blood pressure
- Reduced stress levels
- Lower levels of loneliness
- More social interaction
- More positive attitude
- More exercise
- Less allergies
- Higher self-esteem and better empathy for children without siblings
On the flip side, there were just as many studies showing no difference in pet owners and non-pet owners or even a negative effect on pet owners.
Why can’t they just get some conclusive research results? Well, it is hard to have consistent subjects as there is so much variety in the pets themselves, the relationships between the owner and the pet, the people involved and the health variation of the participants—are people with pets healthier because of the pet or do they get pets because they are healthy?
Animals give single people a purpose in living every day. They need us to get up in order to feed them, cuddle them and groom them. Having a dog also makes it almost essential for me to go for walks every day, and without him, I probably wouldn’t reach my 10,000 steps very often.
Other benefits for me are coming home to a welcome and the companionship they provide. The negatives for me include: care while I’m on holidays, cost and extra work.
One of the studies sums it up this way, “As is true with any relationship, some human-pet relationships are likely to be more rewarding than others... Other factors such as gender and marital status may play a role. For example, one study found that dog ownership was associated with lower rates of depression among women, but not men, and among single individuals but not married people.”