Man’s Best Friend: The Health Benefits of Pet Ownership
Pet ownership has been on the rise in the last few decades. A recent study by the American Pet Products Manufacturers Association determined that approximately two-thirds of American households (71.1 million) have at least one pet. According to national surveys, most pet owners say companionship, love, company, and affection are the main benefits of owning a pet. There is a large amount of data confirming that pets are good for our psychological health and may increase, not only the quality of your lives but also our longevity.
Research Has Show Health Benefits of Pet Ownership
The following is just a small sampling of what research has shown:
- Pets help recovery from heart attacks. A National Institute of Health study found that dog owners had a better one-year survival after a heart attack, compared to those who didn’t own dogs.
- Pets help us calm down and recover from stress quicker.
- Pet owners have less obesity. Studies have shown that owners who walked their dogs had fewer rates of obesity and were more physically active than those without pets.
- Pets increase opportunities for socialization. Many studies have shown that walking a dog leads to more conversations and social interactions.
- Pets can help lower cholesterol levels. The Centers for Disease and Prevention found that owning a pet can decrease cholesterol, triglycerides and blood pressure.
- Pets can comfort children. Child psychologists have found that pets can help teach children empathy and compassion.
- While owning a pet can bring tremendous joy and health benefits, they also require time, attention and financial responsibilities. Make sure that owning a pet is the right decision for you and your family.
All that said, one quote I like (by an unknown author) is: “There is no psychiatrist in the world like a puppy licking your face.”
Original post date: November 2015. Revised: March 2019.
These blogs were written by members of the CHI Health Behavioral Care team.