How Our Pets Help Our Emotional Well-Being

Every pet owner that cares for and cherishes their pet knows how much happiness animals can bring into our lives. The decision to adopt and take care of another living thing is a huge responsibility, but the benefits that come with having a wonderful creature around always outweigh the effort we need to put in. Not only do pets reciprocate the love, support and care we give to them, but they can also help us become healthier and more active in our lives. Dogs for example, can be trained to do more than just love us. They can lead the blind, protect us from intruders and harm, and provide support for people who feel isolated and alone. Recent research has also found that dogs, and especially cats, can make children immune to allergies and conditions like asthma when they interact with pets at an early age. With all these benefits, having a pet around can be amazing for all owners.



have also been used for therapy to help those that are coping with mental illnesses. Pet therapy has shown some amazing results with even the most unresponsive patients. Moreover, the addition of different kinds of animals in old age homes has also shown to significantly improve mood and quality of life in senior citizens. This means that animal therapy can certainly make a difference in how successful combined treatment can be. Recently however, a study published in the Journal of Personality and Social Psychology shows that pets can also significantly benefit “normal, everyday” people too.


McConnell et al. conducted three different studies to see how having a pet has an effect on overall well-being in people. The first study examined how non-owners fared against pet owners in different domains. The results showed that pet owners exhibited greater self-esteem, were more socially outgoing, were more physically fit, were more conscientious, had healthier relationship patterns and were less lonely as compared to non-owners.

Moreover, these pet owners felt that the support they perceived from their pets was equal to how they perceived a family member’s support.

The second study showed that dog owners who reported that their dogs fulfilled their social needs more effectively were happier and healthier overall. This means that people who reported that their dogs added more meaning to their lives, helped with their self-esteem, and made them feel a greater sense of belonging were less stressed, less depressed, less lonely and had greater self-esteem. This study also differentiated the benefits of having a pet and the benefits of having human social support, meaning that the benefits of pet support were independent. Essentially, people can have great social support AND receive great pet support too.


The first two studies had a correlation, but the third study was an experimental study that examined the benefits of having pets. The study split a group of pet owners into three groups, and exposed all three to

an instance of social rejection. After this happened, one group was told to write about their pet, the second group was told to write about their best friend, and the last group was told to draw a map of the campus. The results showed that the people who drew the campus map after experiencing social rejection felt worse after the experiment as compared to the beginning. However, the people who wrote about their dog as well as their best friend were equally happy after. This goes to show that pets have a significant effect on how we feel about support in our lives: they’re literally equal to having a best friend! We all might have already known that our pets are one of the best parts of our lives, and even science has proved this fact to be true. Remember to give your pets some extra love today because they do so much for us!