Science Says Talking to Your Pet is Good For Your Health

Posted by Christy Caplan
Human-Animal Bond

Unconditional love is the greatest part of the human-animal bond! So it's no surprise that pets are good for mental health. This bond also has a powerful impact on the health and well-being of people at a wide range of ages.  

The Human-Animal Bond Research Institute (HABRI) and Mars Petcare released research that shows owning a pet increases human interaction and combats the increasing health concerns around loneliness. Some researchers suggest the government should do more to encourage it. We couldn't agree more! 

The research shows about 40% of people support a government push to increase interaction with pets. 

Check out this statistic. Loneliness is as dangerous to health as smoking 15 cigarettes a day, according to USA Today,

"Nancy Gee, human-animal interaction research manager at Mars' Waltham Centre for Pet Nutrition, says showing other people pictures of your pet and even talking to that cat or dog are both typical and healthy behaviors. When we think about loneliness, we need attachment figures and pets meet that need. You don't have to worry about confidentiality or judgement. It just is what it is."

Loneliness is now as big a problem as obesity in America. If pets are a solution then we should all be talking about this as a country.

The findings show: 

  • More than half (54%) of respondents say their pet helps them connect with other people. And 51% said their pets make them "feel less shy."
  • About one in four pet owners said they got a pet because they know it is good for mental health. More than half of people 55 and over got their pet for that reason.
  • Nearly three-quarters (73%) of those surveyed believe nursing homes and assisted-living facilities have a degree of responsibility to foster pet interaction.

Former Surgeon General Vivek Murthy spoke at the conference and says it still remains to be seen whether pets literally make people healthier or if healthier people are more likely to own pets. It's "worth investing in the research" to better understand how interaction and ownership affect health.   

Dog owners are confident their companion animals provide many health benefits and other studies show how animals can even help lower blood pressure! Physical health is also improved as our best friends need exercise!

Therapy dogs heal people every day.  The social support pets provide combat depression and other health problems. What can't our pets do! Cat owners benefit too as social interaction with felines has many positive effects.

What's the bigger picture look like when it comes to pet ownership? 80 million U.S. households with pets enjoy the benefits of the human-animal bond. Pets play an important role in the lives of older people giving them much needed companionship so this number will likely grow as animal-assisted therapy is now a thriving industry.

These are just a few examples to support the research results but I know my three hounds ensure I'm active so physical activity is a big benefit in our house. I use my health care plan a lot less these days.

How do you celebrate your bond? A huge celebration I hope! Please leave us a comment!

WATCH NOW: Why Pets Are the Best

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Science Says Talking to Your Pet is Good For Your Health