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Is It True That Pet Owners Live Longer?

Mary McMahon
Updated Mar 03, 2024
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According to studies conducted all over the world, it is in fact true that pet owners live longer. This is so widely accepted in many parts of the medical community that doctors sometimes recommend pets to their patients, and pet therapy is a growing offering at places like retirement homes and shelters for abused children. There are a number of theories about what interaction with animals helps people to live longer, and many pet parents have a few of their own.

Many people find that sharing their lives with animals can feel quite rewarding, as any pet owner can tell you. Evidence suggests that in addition to just being pleasurable, pet ownership may also have tangible health benefits. For people who are unable to own pets, pet therapy services can convey some of these benefits, especially when pet therapy is engaged in on a regular basis.

Surveys of pet owners have shown that people with pets tend to have lower blood pressure and decreased stress levels, regardless as to other factors in their lives. Many pet parents have lower blood pressure, and dog owners in particular tend to be in better physical condition than non-dog owners. Researchers in New Zealand have suggested that “regular walkies” with dogs are probably responsible for the generally better health of dog owners.

For people who are depressed, pets can provide a reason to get up in the morning. Because many pet owners feel a sense of responsibility for the animals they care for, this responsibility can be a driving force for someone struggling with depression and loneliness. Pets have also been shown to be beneficial for the elderly, especially older people who live in isolated environments.

Animals of all shapes and sizes are widely used in therapy. Therapists who offer animal or pet therapy have noted that their patients often seem happier with animals around, and that animals can serve as a catalyst for therapeutic breakthroughs. Animal visitors to hospitals, retirement homes, and other care facilities are often greeted with excitement by the residents and patients, and animals have also been used in rehabilitation programs at places like prisons. By reducing psychological stress, people who interact with pets can live longer and lead more rewarding lives.

Pet owners also seem to have better recovery rates when it comes to serious illnesses. In a 2008 survey of cardiac units, doctors noted that pet owners were much less likely to die within a year of a serious heart event, and cat owners in particular seem to live much longer than non-cat owners, even when considering other factors which might influence longevity. Pet parents are also simply less likely to experience strokes and heart attacks, according to the same 2008 study.

The Health Board is dedicated to providing accurate and trustworthy information. We carefully select reputable sources and employ a rigorous fact-checking process to maintain the highest standards. To learn more about our commitment to accuracy, read our editorial process.
Mary McMahon
By Mary McMahon

Ever since she began contributing to the site several years ago, Mary has embraced the exciting challenge of being a The Health Board researcher and writer. Mary has a liberal arts degree from Goddard College and spends her free time reading, cooking, and exploring the great outdoors.

Discussion Comments

By anon949889 — On May 07, 2014

This is all a lie. There really is no scientific correlation between health and pet ownership. More propaganda to get suckers to think they are improving their health by owning an animal in their home. If anything, overzealous pet lovers are some of the most deluded creatures on the planet.

By anon333560 — On May 06, 2013

I am a pet owner and not only do I feel great when I can help a pet that someone has literally thrown away, which my husband and I have done many times, but there is nothing in the world better when I am in a rotten mood than to see my little Susie running to me like I am the most important person in the world. There is absolutely nothing like it. And when I feel bad, she somehow knows it and will nuzzle up to me and just make my day.

By anon307894 — On Dec 07, 2012

This is just more propaganda from the pet industry. The truth is 61 percent of human pathogens, and 75 percent of all newly discovered human diseases are zoonotic.

Until World War II, people didn't have indoor pets, until the "industry" was created.

By ysmina — On Mar 24, 2011

@burcinc-- You can volunteer at an animal shelter a couple of hours a week! Animal shelters are always in need of volunteers to walk dogs or spend some time with the animals. I try to stop by once or twice a week, it's a very satisfying activity and you get so much love in return from these pets.

If you cannot do that, you can maybe ask your friends who do have pets if you can pet-sit them while your friends are out of town or on vacation. There are always ways to be around animals even if you can't have a pet of your own.

By burcinc — On Mar 21, 2011

I had seen a pet owner survey which said the same things about pets and how they improve our health. I want a pet desperately, but I'm not allowed to have any pets in my apartment and I have a contract that I can't get out of for several years.

Most of my friends don't have pets either, I wish there was a way I could be around them more often.

By ddljohn — On Mar 19, 2011

It's so true! I was struggling with depression for several years. I lived by myself, was working more than full time and didn't have much of a social life as a result. Anxiety and depression symptoms started showing up due to my lifestyle and stress.

I adopted a cat 6 months ago and it has helped me so much. When I come home, I feel happy because I know someone is waiting for me. The day's stress and tension literally disappears when I watch my kitty playing with her mouse. I think pets are God's gift to us. They help us re-connect with nature and balance our emotions.

Mary McMahon

Mary McMahon

Ever since she began contributing to the site several years ago, Mary has embraced the exciting challenge of being a...

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