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Why Do Pet Owners Live Longer?

Updated on February 12, 2010

If you have a pet, or if you’ve ever owned a pet, you probably already know that having a “furkid” around can add a lot of happiness to your life. Sure, caring for an animal can be time consuming and sometimes expensive, but there are few other sources for such unconditional love and acceptance. Your dog or cat won’t care if you’re old, handicapped, overweight, short, or badly dressed. It will adore you, no matter what.

Numerous studies across the globe show that pet owners live longer and enjoy better overall health in general. They experience less stress, lower blood pressure, and a lower risk of depression. This is probably due to the fact that pet ownership is a nurturing commitment. The animal needs you for its survival and well being.

Owning a pet gives a sense of purpose to an otherwise “empty” life. Caring for the beloved dog or cat helps keep many people suffering from depression from just “giving up.” They have to do regular chores and activities for and with the animals, which helps keep these people active and involved in life.

Also, pet owners recover more quickly from illnesses, including cardiovascular incidents. A 2008 study showed that cardiac patients who owned a dog or cat recovered more quickly and had a much less incidence of related death.

Just holding a dog or cat or stroking one begins to relieve stress levels in the human almost immediately. This action stops or decreases the production of stress-related hormones, which have been found to have numerous negative impacts on the body.

Pet ownership can benefit anyone, but it seems especially important to the elderly. For one thing, many of them live alone, or they don’t get out much. A pet provides a lot of company for these people, and makes them feel less alone and isolated.

This is one reason pet therapy has become so popular in nursing homes. Most of these senior citizens love petting and playing with the animals. I’ve been involved with pet therapy at a local nursing home with my Great Dane, Hamlet. At first, I thought that perhaps the “old folks” might be afraid of Hammie because of his enormous size. Much to my delight, out of around 50 or 60 patients, only one was scared of my pooch. All the others couldn’t wait to pet him and talk sweetly to him. My big boy just “ate up” all the attention!

Another example of where pet therapy has shown to be extremely effective is with abused children. Even kids who have been reticent to “open up” or accept other humans often have no problems relating to pets. They can tell their secrets to an animal without fear of them being repeated. They can hug and cuddle a pet, and it never repels their advances. And unless a dog or cat has an underlying problem with aggression, pets are never abusive.

I’ve known several seemingly cold-hearted, callous humans act totally different with a pet than they do with their fellow man. Why is that? It’s because pets never judge us. We can totally be ourselves around them and let our inner child come out to play. We can love them as much as we want and shower them with affection, and they’ll never find us too clingy or too emotionally needy.

I can’t imagine life without my furkids! I have two wonderful Great Danes that live inside with my husband and me, and we feed numerous stray cats. We also put out food for the birds, squirrels, and opossums in the neighborhood, and the occasional fox and raccoon also come to dine in our yard. If animals truly make you live longer, I figure we’ll live to be at least 150!

To read more about pets, click on the article links below.

Ahhh...nothing like a dog's love!
Ahhh...nothing like a dog's love!

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    • profile image

      cats r cool 6 years ago

      hello

    • profile image

      mike 6 years ago

      You'll also get more exercise than the average person -- so I'm sure that could contribute to a longer life.

    • DzyMsLizzy profile image

      Liz Elias 6 years ago from Oakley, CA

      Wow--I was going to write just such an article...but you've beaten me to it! LOL Congrats--this shows up on page one on the 'Bing' search engine..

      And yes, our 'furkids' are a very big part of our remaining link to sanity in this horrid economy.

      Voted up all around.

    • BlissfulWriter profile image

      BlissfulWriter 6 years ago

      Reading this makes me want to get a dog.

    • habee profile image
      Author

      Holle Abee 6 years ago from Georgia

      Thanks a bunch!

    • viveresperando profile image

      viveresperando 6 years ago from A Place Where Nothing Is Real

      really enjoyed reading this!

    • habee profile image
      Author

      Holle Abee 6 years ago from Georgia

      Thanks so much, Lucky Cats!

    • Lucky Cats profile image

      Kathy 6 years ago from The beautiful Napa Valley, California

      This is a great hub, habee..and I think you've answered the question "Why do pet owners live longer?" very completely. For all the reasons you've listed and described here, this is why I have lots of animals in my life...they are wonderful company, loving support and unconditionally accepting. Thank you so much for a very very well written and informative hub. UP, USEFUL, AWESOME and BEAUTIFUL and Like on FB@@

    • habee profile image
      Author

      Holle Abee 6 years ago from Georgia

      Apple, I can't imagine life without the benefit of pets!

    • applejuic3 profile image

      applejuic3 6 years ago from San Diego, CA

      This is a great article and another fantastic example of why pets are so rewarding.

    • habee profile image
      Author

      Holle Abee 7 years ago from Georgia

      Bill, think how much longer they might have lived if they HAD owned a pet! lol. Thanks for reading!

    • profile image

      bill 7 years ago

      Strange. When asked people over 100 what the secret to long life is pets are not mentioned. I wonder what percent of centegnarians owns a cat or dog?

    • habee profile image
      Author

      Holle Abee 7 years ago from Georgia

      Maria, what a powerful example of a dog's love!

    • Maria Cecilia profile image

      Maria Cecilia 7 years ago from Philippines

      Habee, I once said that my dogs Peso and Pissy (the one who died last March) saved my life, way back 2006 I had a bad year and was alone at home, almost thinking of taking my life but my two dogs just went up to me at my bedroom climbed my bed and hugged and kissed me, suddenly I realized if I took my life, my dogs will be the poorest creature, and I felt guilty that because of what afflicted me innocent dogs' life will be at stake, and I go on living with them... they are the best companions, stress reliever, they will really keep you fit specially if you stroll with them everyday...

    • habee profile image
      Author

      Holle Abee 7 years ago from Georgia

      Goldie, my Danes do the same for me!

    • goldie77 profile image

      goldie77 7 years ago from Scotland

      good post - I have 2 labradors who cheer me up when I'm down -they always bring a smile to my face

    • habee profile image
      Author

      Holle Abee 7 years ago from Georgia

      Thank you, fellow do lover!

    • profile image

      patspnn 7 years ago from NYC

      This was a beautiful hub. I have 3 dogs and I know what you mean.

    • habee profile image
      Author

      Holle Abee 7 years ago from Georgia

      Ya know, ITcoll, I think it would be hard for me to live without pets! Thanks for reading and leaving a comment.

    • itcoll profile image

      itcoll 7 years ago

      i love pets.I had some rabbits in my house a few years ago.I really enjoyed their company.

    • habee profile image
      Author

      Holle Abee 8 years ago from Georgia

      Thanks, UW! Kinda makes up for the nasty comment I got! I luvs me animals and me grands! lol

    • Uninvited Writer profile image

      Susan Keeping 8 years ago from Kitchener, Ontario

      That is the sweetest picture :)

    • habee profile image
      Author

      Holle Abee 8 years ago from Georgia

      Sounds like a happy fam to me, Nicola! Furkids are the best. Thanks for reading!

    • profile image

      Nicola Mo 8 years ago

      We have 2 dogs and an 8 month old kitten and they are all the best of friends and whilst at times I feel like a running a zoo, they are sooo rewarding and amusing that I would be lost without my "furkids"

    • habee profile image
      Author

      Holle Abee 8 years ago from Georgia

      Thanks, Butch! I think I'd be lost without my furkids.

    • Butch45 profile image

      Butch45 8 years ago

      People with pets live longer because they can relive stress if you let them. And stress causes hart failure. I gave this hub a thumbs up.

    • habee profile image
      Author

      Holle Abee 8 years ago from Georgia

      Yes, Akirchner, it is truly a wonderful gift! Thanks for stopping by!

    • akirchner profile image

      Audrey Kirchner 8 years ago from Central Oregon

      Because they are so happy and so loved! But of course...unconditional love is a great gift.

    • Aqua profile image

      Aqua 8 years ago from California

      Nice hub and I love the pic! You're right about furkids...I love, love, love my baby. She's a miniature pinscher - size wise, quite the opposite of your baby! She brings me so much joy and I appreciate her every day.

    • habee profile image
      Author

      Holle Abee 8 years ago from Georgia

      Thanks, Dreamon. You'd be surprised at the food bill - it only costs about seven bucks a week to feed the dogs. We spend way more on cat food! Danes are lazy and have slow metabolisms.

    • DREAM ON profile image

      DREAM ON 8 years ago

      I have two cats. They aren't just cats they are KINGS.At least they try to show and tell me every day.They take over the bed.Walk on our heads while we sleep.One always cries for attention and cries again when you stop patting him.Who is the boss.The love they give us is immeasurable.I love your hub.I don't know why my hub doesn't have a space for comments. I must of done something wrong in posting it.Thanks for coming to my hubs and I will try to correct my hub.Open to suggestions anytime.Your dogs are so cute.I hate to see there food bill.

    • habee profile image
      Author

      Holle Abee 8 years ago from Georgia

      Thanks, guys! I, too, am a super animal lover - obviously!

    • magdielqr profile image

      magdielqr 8 years ago

      Very good.I love animals.

    • profile image

      ralwus 8 years ago

      Well live on habee. I will too with my 4 dogs, two cats a parrot and budgie. We also have koi in the garden pond and they had babies this summer. Bird feeders for the feathery friends out of doors and the squirrels too. I hope you are right. They sure have been cathartic for me and have made me most welcome upon returning home from my many hospital stays. Ever seen a parrot smile?