HAPPINESS AND PETS

Social support is one way we can help ourselves improve our overall psychological and physical well-being, but does it always have to be accomplished by other people? Research suggests the answer is no (but you happy pet owners already knew that, didn’t you?)! McConnell and colleagues conducted three studies in 2011 exploring the benefits of owning a pet. Their studies demonstrate multiple benefits including, but not limited to, greater self-esteem, decrease in loneliness, healthier relationships, and improved mood.  Research is also demonstrating some evidence that people with pets fare better when facing serious health challenges (e.g., recent heart attacks, HIV). While studies have demonstrated a link between pets and various positive benefits, those who have human support and a pet receive the largest benefits. It is important to consider pets often come with large responsibilities that if not properly planned for can diminish or eliminate the positive benefits. However, if adequately planned and cared for, a pet can be every bit as good as a best friend (just like the old adage says)!