If you’ve ever wondered if pet ownership is good for your health, it’s true—and science can prove it. (As if you needed one more reason to get that puppy or kitten.)
Owning a pet can help reduce the risk of things like cardiovascular disease, and in general, can help reduce overall mortality compared to non-pet owners. Pet ownership can also increase physical activity, reduce stress levels, and help you be more connected to your community. Here’s how having a pet can help you live longer.
Pet ownership can increase physical activity
A study showing the correlation between pet ownership and cardiovascular risk suggests that owning a pet, especially one that needs to be walked such as a dog, can help maintain a healthy weight. The odds of obtaining the recommended exercise are greater when you have a pet, plus you get to spend time in nature, which also can help increase longevity.
Pet owners who took their pets for walks and met the recommended threshold for physical activity were 57-77% more likely than non-pet owners to do so. Remember, this exercise also helps your pet and can directly impact their happiness as well.
Pet ownership can decrease stress
The rise in emotional support animals—remember emotional support peacocks?—is no wonder, given that pets can help greatly reduce stress, especially for those who might be clinically anxious. Decreased emotional stress can result in reduced heart rates and blood pressure.
Pet ownership can help you feel more connected
Finally, pets can also help you feel more connected to your pet and the outside world. Pet owners reap the benefits of connecting with their animals, such as trust, empathy, a decrease in aggression, and a positive mood. Pet owners also get out and about on walks or to maintenance appointments, making it more likely for owners to be social. Loneliness, unfortunately, can contribute to mortality. Having a pet not only has the owner beholden to looking after something other than themselves, but it also gives people—especially older adults who are more prone to loneliness—a sense of purpose.
While pet ownership comes with a lot of responsibilities, it can also help decrease mortality and improve quality of life—maybe just the encouragement you need to bring another furry friend home.