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Is it True That Pet Owners Live Longer?

Dog owners tend to be in better physical condition than non dog owners.
Pets have been shown to be beneficial for the elderly.
Studies have shown that people who have pets live healthier lives.
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  • Written By: Mary McMahon
  • Edited By: Bronwyn Harris
  • Last Modified Date: 21 October 2014
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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 owners 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 owners 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.

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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 owners are also simply less likely to experience strokes and heart attacks, according to the same 2008 study.

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anon949889
Post 7

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.

anon333560
Post 6

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.

anon307894
Post 4

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.

ysmina
Post 3

@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.

burcinc
Post 2

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.

ddljohn
Post 1

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.

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