How Having Pets can Potentially Better your Quality of Life

Many people who own pets can generally agree that they enjoy their pet’s company. According to the 2017-2018 APPA National Pet Owners Survey, it is found that around sixty eight percent of American homes have a pet of some sort, with the most prominent being dogs. An interesting survey conducted by Houzz, which surveyed 10,000 pet owners in eleven different countries, found that seventy one percent of the people surveyed from France and ninety percent of those from the United States said that one of the best aspects of owning a pet is how happy they made their owners. While we pet owners may sacrifice an arm and a leg to pay their veterinary fees, our pets may actually be helping us reduce our medical bills, even if by a little. Before I begin, I want to address that this article is not referring to service animals, who have specific duties related to their owners.

Referring back to the Houzz survey, people surveyed also said that the second top benefit of owning a pet is that they help their owners to deal with stress. Another potential correlation with the reduction in stress is the fact that pets also help improving their owners' cardiovascular health. One study that was endorsed by organizations such as the American Association of Cardiovascular and Pulmonary Rehabilitation found that people who own dogs have a lower risk of heart disease as well as lower blood pressure and cholesterol. For individuals who had already been diagnosed with some sort of cardiovascular illness, canines still had health benefits, helping owners to be four times more likely to be alive after a year in direct contact with a pet and to have a higher likelihood of surviving a heart attack. It has also been discovered that cats do have a similar impact to that of dogs. A separate ten year study found out that those who owned cats, either currently or beforehand, were forty percent less likely to have a heart attack and thirty percent less likely to die from other cardiovascular diseases.

To millions of people, having a pet means having a friend. Roughly nine out of ten people say that their pet is part of the family, as shown by The Harris Poll, which surveyed 2,194 adults in May 2011. This is evident through many things we let our pets do, including sleeping on the bed with us. There are many stories in which a pet, whether it be bird or a dog, has helped people mentally, often when they are going through a rough patch in life. A survey conducted by the Mental Health Foundation in partnership with Cats Protection in 2011 uncovered that of the six hundred participants, some who had cats and others who did not, eighty seven percent of the individuals believed that owning a cat had a positive impact on their well-being, while another seventy six percent said that having a cat allowed them to deal with life easier. Clearly, there are both physical and mental benefits a pet can potentially provide. While I previously addressed that this article does not include service animals, many people may regularly purchase or adopt  animals with the intention of benefiting either their physical or mental health.

In addition, there are many pet specific benefits. For example, owning a dog helps certain people keep track of their physical life, but that is not to say that owning a cat cannot help its owner exercise more. There are so many more benefits that can be discovered through online searching. However, just like most things, owning a pet may not be for everyone. You know yourself best and if you already had bad experiences with pets, maybe owning one is not for you. For some people, being near animals may actually worsen their quality of life. If you are unsure, depending on your previous experiences with animals, you may potentially want to foster a pet and try out the new experience.


Cherry Lam