What Research Says About Pet Owners Versus Non Pet Owners

Is there any impact on your life by owning a pet? Research says: Yes there is.

Are pet owners happier? The paper we analyze today is one that assesses pet ownership to give insights on how owning pets can affect lives. We know from previous research that pet ownership can impact health in a positive way- and this paper gives more insight into this.

Paper: Mein, G., Grant, R. A cross-sectional exploratory analysis between pet ownership, sleep, exercise, health and neighbourhood perceptions: the Whitehall II cohort study. BMC Geriatr 18, 176 (2018) doi:10.1186/s12877-018-0867-3

What was done?

The researchers surveyed 6575 participants aged between 59 and 79 years using many types of surveys that assessed health, exercise and their views in general about various aspects of their life.

What did they find out?

Below are the 5 key takeaways from the research.

  1. 1 Pet owners exercise more than non pet owners


    Yep, owning a pet was associated with higher rates of mild and moderate(but not vigorous) excercise

  2. 2 Out of all pet owners surveyed, dog owners exercised the most


    Among pet owners, dog owners had the highest rates of moderate and mild excerise. 

  3. 3 Pet owners were more positive about their neighbourhood


    With higher rates of exercise, pet owners were more likely to explore their neighbourhoods and to develop a "positive attitude towards their surroundings." 

  4. 4 Pet owners had better sleep quality


    This was especially true for dog owners-who seemed to have "less trouble falling asleep."

  5. 5 Pet owners woke up more tired than non pet owners


    Pet owners were more likely to wake up tired than non pet owners as they are woken up by their pets or due to having to walk their pets at night. 

    So what

    Pet owners in general lead healthier life styles, particularly when we look at their exercise rates. This may explain previous findings that indicated that pet owners had less frequent health visits and a lower chance of dying with a heart attack or within a year of a heart attack. 

    In conclusion, this research indicates that earlier findings about  how pet ownership has a positive impact on our health, comes not only from the emotional aspect but may also be related to its impact on daily activities.

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