Benefit # 3: Companionship
According to the National Academies of Science, Engineering, and Medicine, more than 1/3 of adults 45 or over feel lonely on a regular basis. The study also found that 25% of those over 65 were socially isolated, which means they have little human interaction.
Loneliness can lead to poor physical and mental health. That’s why the effect of pets on loneliness and companionship is so important.
According to Psychology Today, 80% of pet owners say their pets make them feel less lonely. They go on to state that the majority of pet owners have a pet to reduce or avoid loneliness.
Benefit #4: Social Support
Pets don’t just provide companionship themselves, they also lead people to make friends. This is a surprising benefit of pet ownership. According to Harvard Health, pet owners are 60% more likely to meet new friends in their neighborhood than those without a pet.
Pet ownership was also the third most common way people met others in their local neighborhood, with number one being neighbors with others and two being using local streets and frequenting parks.
Perhaps most importantly, 40% of those who met others due to their pets received some type of social support from the person.
Given all the research into pets and their benefits, it can be tempting to find a pet if you don’t own one already. However, you should keep in mind that responsible pet ownership is important for your mental health as well.
Be sure to choose a pet that matches your needs and your activity level. Any pet can provide some benefits to your mental health. The majority of research has been conducted on cats and dogs, but some studies have looked at other types of pets, or pets as a whole.