Human animal bond

Study on the human health benefits of pet ownership

The pros vastly outweigh the cons

A 2019 poll from the University of Michigan's Institute for Healthcare Policy and Innovation shows that one in six people put their animals’ needs ahead of their own. This figure was closer to one in four among those with health issues.

Other findings from the study showed:

  • 55% of adults aged 50-80 have at least one pet
  • 75% of pet owners say their animals help reduce their stress and provide a sense of purpose
  • 78% of dog owners say that their dog helps them stay physically active
  • 70% of pet owners with fair or poor health say their pet helps them cope with physical and emotional symptoms
  • 46% of pet owners with fair or poor health say their pets help take their mind off pain
  • 18% of pet owners report additional financial strains on their budget from supporting their animals' needs

“Helping older adults find low-cost ways to support pet ownership while not sacrificing other important relationships and priorities is an investment in overall mental and physical health,” says Dr. Cathleen Connell, professor of health behavior and health education at the University of Michigan School of Public Health.

Michigan Medicine - University of Michigan. “Poll: Pets help older adults cope with health issues, get active and connect with others: For some, time commitment, cost, and allergies stand in the way of pet ownership.” Science Daily. 3 April 2019.

This article has been reprinted with permission from the Cornell University College of Veterinary Medicine’s DogWatch newsletter, published by Belvoir Media Group. When you become a member of the Riney Canine Health Center, you will receive a free subscription to DogWatch.