It was a no brainer. If you like a companion who would listen without question, a pet is for you. Research from the ’80s and ’90s suggested that a myriad of benefits came from pet ownership. Reduced asthma risks, allergy risks, cardiovascular risks were among the listed benefits. “Scientific studies have shown having a pet results in lower cholesterol, lower blood pressure, decreased anxiety and depression, decreased levels of stress in post-traumatic stress disorders, in personality disorders, phobias and results in overall improvement in mental health,” says Howard Chusid, Ed.D., LHMC, NCC. However, as time went on, the previously stated benefits disappeared.
There are indeed costs to maintain a pet, which not only entails financial matters. There’s also the chore of restraining a noisy dog or a warmongering cat, which may depend on the personality of the animal in question. Ultimately, the question that should be asked before getting one is whether a pet indeed can bring happiness.
Can They Improve Your Mental Wellbeing?
“We observed evidence that pet owners fared better, both in terms of well-being outcomes and individual differences, than non-owners on several dimensions,” said lead researcher Allen R. McConnell, PhD. Having a pet around to go home to sure does help with your need for companionship. But studies had shown that among 928 adolescents, 77.6% reported that they didn’t spend any time at all with their pets, averaging 0 minutes per day. It’s not too hard to know why, as electronics take more of the time. Also, risks of being overweight weren’t so different between kids with pets and kids without them.
Adult dog owners did report a 19-minute advantage on walking habits over non-dog owners. Cat owners, on the other hand, have similar habits to non-pet owners. However, a couch potato would still be a couch potato, regardless of the presence of a pet.
What Are Good Things In Having A Pet?
A recent research paper evaluated the positives of having a pet to one’s mental health. They concluded that pets could indeed be a source for social support, providing many a psychological benefit to the owner. “Dogs can help people learn about the inconsistencies in how we treat animals,” according to Marc Bekoff Ph.D.
However, the same study reported a meager 2.7% rise in mood and life satisfaction and had said no growths whatsoever in other studies. It may seem a bit crazy, as pets come to you without asking anything in return, and are down for you whenever. However, the reality is that our world has a lot to take care of work, finances, friends, a spouse, and many more. The last thing you’ll want to deal with is your dog throwing a fit at the neighbors.
Can Pets Put Meaning In Our Lives?
Often, studies found that having children takes a toll on one’s mood and life satisfaction, which is true, as you’d have to sacrifice your goals for theirs. Adding to that, couples with children have more likelihood of getting divorced, a worse mood, and lower life satisfaction. Those facts, however, don’t stop population growth around the world, as children are still being born all over, in varying backgrounds too.
In life, we strive to be meaningful, which comes with a connection to the right links. A human is defined by the relationships they keep. Hence why the famous saying “birds of the same feather, flock together.” You do need feathers to make a bird, after all, and humans need other humans to make them whole.
Can we say the same of animals? They do take less of a job, but cannot provide the same benefits as an actual human does. In the end, the question of whether a pet can bring happiness is still a very much debatable topic.