Why Do People Share Their Lives with Pets?


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Most households in the U.S. have at least one pet. There are far more pets than children, as one example. No one forces people to get a pet, so why are pets so common? A new survey offers some hints.

Want to feel better about yourself, get a pet. According to a recent survey, 84 percent of Americans with pets say their animal companion brings a positive mental health impact to their lives. The survey was funded by the American Psychiatric Association (APA) and the American Veterinary Medical Association (AVMA).

The poll of more than 2,200 adults conducted early last month also found about two-thirds of respondents calling their pet “a true friend,” a “companion” and someone who “provide[s] unconditional love and support.”

Those surveyed indicated that pets also:

  • Provide a calming presence (62 percent).
  • Help reduce stress and anxiety (62 percent).
  • Encourage them to be physically active (35 percent).
  • Add structure to their schedule (29 percent).

If your social life can use a boost, the survey indicates that getting a pet might help, at least that is about what 20 percent suggest.

The most significant concern regarding pets is that, as 76 percent were preemptively concerned about death of a pet and 67 percent had concerns regarding their pet’s health.

A full 72 percent of respondents of the poll did have some kind of animal living in the home:

  • 52 percent had dogs.
  • 37 percent had cats.
  • 7 percent had fish.
  • 4 percent had birds.
  • Less than 3 percent had turtles, chickens, horses, snakes, lizards, rabbits, guinea pigs, or hamsters.