If you want more happiness, get a pet.
In the 80s and 90s, research came out suggesting many benefits from pet ownership. From reduced risk of asthma, allergies, and cardiovascular disease to increased mood and wellbeing.
Some doctors started recommending pet ownership to their patients.
I thought the decision was a no-brainer. It seems fun and the companionship will be great. Once I have enough money, let’s get a pet!
In one study of 928 adolescents, 77.6% reported spending an average of… 0 minutes a day caring for or actively playing with their pet. (1) Video games and TV are more interesting.
On average only 0.7% of total daily energy expenditure involved interaction with pets.
That’s about 20 calories.
25% of pet owners who are married report that their pet is “a better listener than their spouse.” (4) If that wasn’t so sad I’d laugh.
Aren’t dogs dirty?
This might be one of the arguments of your roommate on not owning a pet. If cleaning commercials are to be believed, humanity is in the midst of a war against germs—and we shouldn’t stop until every single one is dead. In reality, the amount of disinfecting we do is making us sicker; since our bodies are exposed to a less diverse mix of germs, our entire microbiome is messed up. Fortunately, dogs are covered in germs! Having a dog in the house means more diverse bacteria enters the home and gets inside the occupants (one study found “dog-related biodiversity” is especially high on pillowcases). In turn, people with dogs seem to get ill less frequently and less severely than people—especially children—with cats or no pets.’
I’ll get allergies
While dog dander can be a trigger for people with allergies, growing up in a house with a dog makes children less likely to develop allergies over the course of their lives. And the benefits can start during gestation; a 2017 study published in the journal Microbiome found that a bacterial exchange happened between women who lived with pets (largely dogs) during pregnancy and their children, regardless of type of birth or whether the child was breastfed, and even if the pet was not in the home after the birth of the child. Those children tested had two bacteria, Ruminococcus and Oscillospira, that reduce the risk of common allergies, asthma, and obesity, and they were less likely to develop eczema.
Dog owners are happier
Dog owners are less likely to suffer from depression than non-pet owners. Even for those people who are clinically depressed, having a pet to take care of can help them out of a depressive episode. Since taking care of a dog requires a routine and forces you to stay at least a little active, dog owners are more likely to interact with others and have an increased sense of well-being while tending to their pet. The interaction with and love received from a dog can also help people stay positive. Even the mere act of looking at your pet increases the amount of oxytocin, the “feel good” chemical, in the brain.