Benefits of Pet Ownership: Why Pets Make Us Feel Better

Getting a daily dose of happiness is only one of the benefits of pet ownership. Check out the rest!

Updated January 28, 2024
Young girl gives a kiss to her pet rabbit

Did you know that pets can have a positive impact on owners of all ages? The benefits aren't restricted to one singular group, like children, seniors, or anything in between. Good Morning America's Dr. Belisa Vranich offers professional insights on the emotional benefits of pet ownership.

Pets Effect Our Emotional Well-Being

We asked Dr. Vranich, "Does pet ownership truly have a beneficial effect on a person's emotional well-being?"

Yes! Having and caring for a pet can have a large impact on someone's happiness and emotional well-being, in part because:

Your Pet Needs You

The responsibility of owning a pet gives the caretaker the experience of being needed.

They Show Their Love

Pets show happiness in seeing their human companion by purring, wagging their tail, etc., and we all like feeling loved.

Adoration For Your Pet

Seeing how beautiful, cute, or unique your pet is gives you pride. Your pet becomes an extension of yourself. Whatever peculiar traits or complex tricks they learn become positive for you both.

Your Pet Keeps You Company

Pets are excellent company, whether they are treated as roommates, children, or best friends. People feel coupled with them, and this gives them strength in facing adversity or boredom.

Pets That Have the Most Impact

Pets that have a special dialogue or routine with their owners are the ones that have the best effect. Just like newlyweds, pets and their owners develop routines and their own language to communicate. The more intertwined their routines are, the stronger the bond.

The Differences Between Men and Women With Pets

The next question we asked Vranich was if there's a difference in the way men and women relate to their pets. She explained, "I think it depends on what they are needing in their life at the moment. If a man needs a "buddy," his pet becomes a companion. You can tell by the nicknames the pet has, likebig guy, buddy boy, and boss.

Need to Know

Women seem to relate more to their pets as either children, protectors, or mates, although it also happens that they are perceived as girlfriends too, but less so.

Does Gender Affect the Attachment?

Both men and women attach to their pets very strongly, see them as family, and mourn them intensely when they die.

Benefits for All Ages Groups

Whether you, or the loved one you're reading this for, are seniors at an eldercare facility, an independent senior, a disabled adult, or a child, the benefits of pet ownership apply to everyone. 

Related: 10 Best Dog Breeds for Seniors to Keep You Active & Joyful

Emotional Benefits at Elder Care Facilities

Therapy dogs are very astute about physical and psychological pain. Elder people and patients tend to focus on discussing topics related to their failing health, and their relationship with a therapy dog makes the interaction all about petting, smiling, and enjoying each other in a nonverbal way. Being able to pet or hug a dog is very therapeutic. Most of these dogs also show a lot of love and seem thrilled to see their regular residents.

Independent Seniors and Disabled Adults

Mature man and his small white dog have the same fashion sense.

The availability of wee-wee pads and self-cleaning cat litter boxes makes it easier than it has ever been for people who are housebound or physically challenged to have pets. If you have a family member who could benefit from having a pet, know that finding the right size and personality of pet may be less of a hassle than you think and could be very beneficial.

Need to Know

Many pet supply companies deliver, so carrying or shopping isn't as big an issue these days.

Emotional Benefits of Pets for Children 

Pets often encourage children to express themselves more and to talk more. This is a wonderful opportunity! The best way to encourage a pet owner to talk is to ask about their pet. Most won't hesitate to give you all the deets!

Remember, Never Surprise Anyone With a Pet 

Even though the emotional benefits of pet ownership are clear, you should never surprise a person with a pet without first clearly knowing that they want one. That's a lot of responsibility to put on someone who may not be ready. Plus, it takes some thought on the future pet parent's side to get a pet. There are high-energy and low-energy pets, pets with high and low grooming needs, and so on.

Help Your Loved One With Pet Ownership

If you'd like your child or grandparent to own a pet, be available to help them through the process, continuing on a daily basis if needed. If you'd like to get your parent or grandparent a pet, consider an adult pet since their personality will be more established. That way, you can best match their personalities. If you're looking for someone who is always on the go, you'll want to help look for cats that are more independent, or perhaps a dog breed with tons of energy. 

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Benefits of Pet Ownership: Why Pets Make Us Feel Better