How Pets Help People

HEALTHY PETS DISCLAIMER: This information is for educational purposes only and is not intended to replace the advice of your own veterinarian or doctor. Our goals for this paper are twofold: (1) Describe how pet owners and non-pet owners differ. (2) Describe why this difference needs to be accounted for in observational research on pet ownership and health. In this paper, we will examine the factors associated with pet ownership to provide empirical evidence about how dog and cat owners differ from the general population. We also describe how these differences are also associated with health outcomes, which may lead researchers to under- or over-estimate the impact of pet ownership on health in any observational studies that do not use suitable statistical controls. We then provide guidance into how to strengthen the research basis, recommending some recent methodological innovations that help overcome the limitations associated with selection bias.

This is a best-case scenario. Millions of dogs spend their lives outdoors on heavy chains in all weather extremes or are kept locked up in tiny chain-link pens from which they can only watch the world go by. Millions more are confined to filthy wire cages in puppy mills , forced to churn out litter after litter until they wear out, at which time they are killed or dumped at the local animal shelter. Even in good” homes, cats must relieve themselves in dirty litterboxes and often have the tips of their toes amputated through declawing Dogs often have to drink water that has been sitting around for days, are hurried along on their walks, if they even get walked, and are yelled at to get off the furniture or be quiet.

All breeds of dog need regular, daily walks in order to stay happy and healthy, and so do we! However, we sometimes have the tendency to get a bit lazy – if that sounds like you, a dog is the perfect cure! They’ll be dragging you out the front door and making you run around the park each and every day. Yes, a dog is possibly the best personal trainer you could ask for.

Pet owners and non-pet owners differ across many socio-demographic variables, such as gender, age, race, living arrangements, income, and employment status. These differences are also associated with health, so when trying to draw causal inference about pet ownership using a general population sample, selection bias should be accounted for (or at least acknowledged), as it could lead to an over- or under-estimation of pet ownership’s true effects. In our analyses, it appears that it may inflate them, as pet owner characteristics are associated with better mental and physical health outcomes. This is not a new problem, as selection issues have plagued observational research, with many methodologists and statisticians advancing new methods to deal with this problem that used to confound any meaningful analysis. We recommend propensity score matching utilizing boosted regression since the exact relationship between socio-demographic characteristics and pet ownership is unknown.

That’s something that the AVMA has brought up as a counterargument. If your cat was a legal person, and your neighbor thought you weren’t treating your cat well—you weren’t feeding the cat enough or you weren’t springing for that $5,000 chemotherapy—your neighbor or something like a pet protective services could step in and take that animal way, just like if you mistreated a child.