How Pets Can Enhance Life of Those That Love Them

May 13, 2021 3 min read

Pet friends and health

There are many reasons to have a pet but do you know there are studies showing the health benefits of owning a pet?  I am talking about that pets such as dogs and cats can help extend your life. Because of the COVID lockdown we are seeing the benefits of having a pet while we isolate. So we’ll discuss the influence of pets on our health and offer listeners some interesting facts and tips. 

So, just how many people are pet owners in the US?

Pet ownership in the United States has been on the rise and in 2018, about 57% of US households have at least one pet.  In a Pet Ownership & Demographic Study (2018) by the AVMA, it shows that dogs are the most popular pets and then followed closely by cats. 

Top Pet Statistics (1)

  1. The value of the pet industry in the USA reached approximately $99 billion last year.
  2. Only 2.1% of all pets in the USA are insured.
  3. Dogs are the biggest influence driving first home purchases among millennials.
  4. More than half of millennial pet owners buy their pets gifts at least once a month.
  5. In the past 10 years, American pet spending has more than doubled.
  6. 45% of American pet owners spend the same amount of money or more on their pets’ healthcare as they do their own.
  7. One in 10 American pet owners are putting off having kids or more children because of pet expenses. 
    Note (1) Source:  "15 Insightful Pet Spending Statistics (2021) |" 26 Jan. 2021, Accessed 11 May. 2021.

What does science say about having pets?

Studies have shown that pets have health benefits for both physical and psychologial health.

Physical benefits are: lower blood pressure in stressful situations, playing with a dog or cat can increase levels of serotonin and dopamine which makes you calm and relaxed and help. People with pets have lower blood pressure in stressful situations than those without pets. 

Psychological benefits are because pets fulfill the basic human need for touch and helps to calm and soothe someone and help with loneliness.  This helps to boost mood and depression. 

In studies reported by Harvard  have shown that dog owners have lower blood pressure than non-owners.   This is probably because their pets have a calming effect on them and because dog owners tend to get more exercise. 

Also, several studies show that blood pressure goes down when a person pets a dog.

Different types of pets are beneficial to health.  It helps support a person’s creativity and thinking diversity.  Which pet offers the best for humans?  The most common of course are cats and dogs. Study of animal therapy show that social support–a proven antidote to anxiety and loneliness–can come on four legs, not just two.

More research is needed before scientists know exactly why it works and how much animal interaction is needed for the best results. Here are some examples of studies on pets other than cats or dogs:

First there’s rabbits, they are usually a starter pet.  In one study, a stressed-out group of adults were told to pet a rabbit, a turtle or stuffed toys. The toys had no effect but petting a living creature, whether hard-shelled or furry, relieved anxiety. 

Next, there’s crickets.  In a 2016 study published in the journal Gerontology, elderly people who were given five crickets in a cage became less depressed after eight weeks than a control group. Caring for a living creature helped to make a difference.

Finally there’s the another very common pet -  fish. In one study when people at an Alzheimer’s-disease facility had there meals in front of aquariums with brightly colored fish, they ate more and was more attentive and less lethargic.  Furry, four legs, bugs, many different types of pets to choose from.

In conclusion, pets and humans need each other in this difficult world.  These benefits come in many ways such as how they can produce more dopamine and oxytocin  which helps humans become more happier.  It also helps people extend their life longer so they can enjoy the great things in life. Pets get to have the love and care they deserve.



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