PSA: Science says pet parents are beautiful people—inside and out—but I'm sure you already knew that. Of course, taking the responsibility to care for another living thing, by its very nature, makes a human being more empathetic. You care about the struggle of living creatures and have a heart full of love—and that can change a pet's life. And anyone who's ever been lucky enough to be a pet parent knows that a pet's love changes you, too.
There's now proof that being a pet parent makes you a better person. The next time someone asks you why you think you're so great, just point to your four-legged friend and say, "It's science!" Here's why owning a pet keeps you healthy, stress-free, and looking gorgeous!
Pets help you live longer
You knew that being a pet parent made your heart feel good, but did you know it actually makes your heart healthier, too? Data have long pointed to a correlation between pet ownership and a longer lifespan. A 2019 study from the AHA Journals concluded that "dog ownership is associated with lower risk of death over the long term, which is possibly driven by a reduction in cardiovascular mortality."
It makes sense—people who own dogs tend to exercise more while taking their pets out for walks. And, of course, pets offer some extra love and attention that can help lower cholesterol and blood pressure.
Pets help reduce stress & depression
A pet's unconditional love does more than help your physical health—it helps with your mental health, too. A lot of that comes with how relaxed we are around our pets. Pets don't care if you haven't brushed your hair or if you're having a down day, they're just there to be wonderful non-judgmental beacons of support. The editorial "Who Is Rescuing Whom?" that accompanied the AHA Journals study states, "Dogs offer companionship, reduce anxiety and loneliness, increase self-esteem, and improve overall mood. Even a single exposure to therapy dogs reduces stress response and pain during pediatric phlebotomy or postarthroplasty physical therapy."
There's a good reason why we employ service dogs to help with both medical services (hearing impairment, mobility impairment, epilepsy, etc.) and emotional support services (anxiety, depression, PTSD, etc.)
Dogs make you seem more attractive
Aside from the fact that having a dog makes you more likely to meet new people (hello pick-up techniques!), studies have demonstrated that people who own dogs are perceived as more attractive. According to Helen Fisher, a senior research fellow at the Kinsey Institute and a chief adviser to Match.com, “Having a dog really says something about you. It says you can care for a creature, that you can follow a schedule and get home to feed it, that you can walk it and love it and spend time with it.”
Two French psychologists tested this "cute dog effect" hypothesis in a 2008 study. They had a young man approach 240 women to ask for their phone numbers—half the time alone and half the time with a dog. His success rate: 10% without the dog and 30% with the dog. And who doesn't like those odds?
There it is. Now you have proof that your pet is making you happier, healthier, less stressed, and absolutely beautiful!