New Research Reports Owning These 3 Types Of Animal Companions In Your Home Will Help You Live Longer, Be Healthier & Happier; Proof They Really Are A Human’s Best Friend

animal companions

For as long as humans have walked the earth, we have enjoyed close bonds with animal companions of all kinds. From livestock and work animals assisting with daily labors to beloved household pets living right within our homes, these creatures provide us with loyal companionship, comfort, and joy.

Now, an accumulating body of research reveals that sharing life with certain animals delivers measurable benefits beyond just camaraderie – actually helping us live longer, stay healthier, and feel happier.

In recent years, scientifically studying the impact of animal companionship on human wellbeing has become an exciting new field. While anecdotal wisdom has long suggested animal friends relieve anxiety and depression, researchers can now quantify these mental health lifts.

Rigorous new studies demonstrate unambiguous correlations between sharing life with some animals, and improved health outcomes including reduced blood pressure, diminished stress, increased physical fitness, boosted immunity, and enhanced cardiovascular health.

But what magic do these special creatures possess that makes such a difference for human welfare? Experts suggest several factors are at play. The unconditional love pets provide helps fight isolation and loneliness. Caring for another living being gives humans a sense of purpose and accountability.

Activities like walking dogs and stroking soft fur lower cortisol levels and blood pressure. Birdsong and cat purring release relaxing vibrations. And animal companions motivate their owners to exercise and spend more time outdoors. For animal lovers, the research validates what many have felt intrinsically their whole lives – that living with certain pets boosts wellbeing on multiple fronts.

In this article, we will explore the mounting scientific evidence revealing how three specific types of animal companions can help humans live longer, healthier, happier lives. We’ll look at the measurable mental and physical enhancements each provides, and why these particular creatures seem especially adept at ameliorating human welfare across the board.

For all animal aficionados, the new data substantiates scientifically what was already clear instinctively – that sharing life with these pets profoundly uplifts us. The difference now is researchers can conclusively demonstrate the tangible benefits these special human-animal bonds confer, gifting us longer, fuller, richer lives.

The Science Behind Owning Animal Companions & Good Health

If you have the privilege of sharing your home with a pet, you likely have anecdotal evidence that having a bond with a furry (or scaled, or feathered) companion comes with health perks. And according to the Centers for Disease Control (CDC), owning pets can help manage depression, stress, anxiety, loneliness, and symptoms associated with post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD).

With these potential pet-based health benefits in mind, it would make sense that owning a pet may help you live longer. Turns out, there’s scientific evidence that pet ownership can actually extend your lifespan.

Data Suggest People With Dogs Tend To Live Longer

According to the experts, simply put: Yes—in many cases, owning a dog can help you live longer. In one 2019 review published in an American Heart Association journal, the authors (led by Caroline K. Kramer, MD, PhD) found that dog ownership was associated with a 24% risk reduction for all-cause mortality compared to non-ownership.

Based on the currently available research, it seems that most of this positive benefit stems from two major factors: Dogs can improve your cardiovascular health by promoting greater rates of physical activity; and they also bestow you with a sense of social connection.

“Scientific research has demonstrated that the human-animal bond can positively influence the emotional, psychological, and physical health and wellbeing of people, in ways such as increasing physical activity, lowering blood pressure, and improving social connectedness. Many such benefits contribute to a longer, healthier life.” – explains Lindsey Braun, Human Animal Bond Research Institute (HABRI).

Braun highlights research that’s shown pet owners, particularly dog owners, are more likely to meet the recommended amount of physical activity through walking. “One study that examined new dog owners after 12 months of ownership found that dog acquisition leads to an increase in hours spent walking per week. New owners tend to naturally take on the responsibility of dog walking, as dogs can provide powerful behavioral incentives to increase recreational walking.”

The CDC notes that by increasing your physical activity, dog ownership may help improve your overall cardiovascular heart—in particular by lowering your blood pressure, cholesterol levels, and triglyceride levels.

Owning a dog may also help improve your health outcome following a major cardiovascular event, like a heart attack. Liisa Byberg, PhD, a professor in the department of surgical sciences and medical epidemiology at Uppsala University in Sweden, authored a study that found that the risk of death for dog-owning heart attack patients who live alone after being hospitalized was 33% lower compared to non-dog-owners. In the study, dog owners were also less likely to experience recurrent heart attacks.

Dr. Byberg says they can currently only really speculate about the mechanisms that conferred these benefits and why they seemed to be connected to living alone. “One potential explanation could be that dogs can provide psychosocial support in environments where human companionship is not available,” Byberg says. She too backs the point about physical activity: “In a single household, the person is probably more likely to be responsible for the walking routines.”

People With Animal Companions Get Sick Less Often

There is growing evidence that owning a pet or having close interactions with a pet may offer a protective effect against Clostridioides difficile (often called C. diff) infections, most likely by exposing you to more bacteria and thereby strengthening your immune system.

A 2023 study in the peer-reviewed medical journal PLOS One also found that continuous exposure to dogs and cats from fetal development to infancy reduced subject’s risk of developing food allergies, likely using the same mechanism.

  • Several recent studies have found that people who own dogs or cats are less likely to develop C. diff infections compared to non-pet owners. One study showed a 25% lower risk.
  • Research suggests this protective effect stems largely from pets exposing humans to more microbes, which helps strengthen and diversify the immune system. Dogs especially, who love to sniff and lick everything outside, bring a wide variety of bacteria into homes.
  • Exposure to this added microbial diversity seems to make human gut microbiomes more resilient and better able to fend off infections from opportunistic pathogens like C. diff.
  • Dogs and cats also track in dirt and soil on their paws, which can introduce beneficial microorganisms that may bolster immunity. Some studies have found people with pets have more diverse gut microbiomes.
  • Reduced C. diff infection risk may also come from increased physical activity and time outdoors associated with walking and playing with pets. Plus the stress-reducing effects of animal companionship.
  • More research is still needed, but multiple studies point to a link between pet ownership and lower susceptibility to C. diff. The immune-boosting microbial exposures pets provide offer a promising explanation that scientists are continuing to investigate.
  • In summary, early research indicates pets may help protect against C. diff infections by bringing a wider variety of bacteria into their owners’ homes and lives, therefore strengthening the immune system. More work is being done to further elucidate this relationship between animal companionship and reduced infection risk.

Yes, Owning Other Types Of Animal Companions Could Help You Live Longer

A majority of the research looking into how pet ownership can improve your health and, in turn, your lifespan, focuses on dog ownership. But there is some evidence that pet ownership in general may also offer health perks that could help you live longer.

In one 2020 study people who owned cats had a reduced risk of dying from a cardiovascular event. And in a 2022 review, the authors reported how some studies show that pet ownership as a whole may reduce your risk of developing high blood pressure, help better manage it, and improve your prognosis after experiencing a heart attack or stroke.

In another review published in 2020, the authors write that “Pet ownership, or just being in the presence of a companion animal, is associated with health benefits, including improvements in mental, social, and physiologic health status.”

So grab that frisbee, leash, brush or treat and give your little one some love. Braun says loneliness and social isolation can be significant threats to health, while research strongly suggests that social connections greatly improve longevity.


Recommended Reading:

If A Service Dog In A Vest Approaches You Without It’s Owner, You Should Stop What You’re Doing And Follow These 5 Steps Immediately-

Cesar Milan Explains 8 Training Tips To Create a Responsive, Healthy and Well-Behaved Dog

You may also like...