There are pluses and minuses to living with pets, not only with respect to your happiness and housekeeping, but also with respect to your health. Summarizing the scientific research done on owners of house pets, we can say that the overall effect of living with an animal is positive. Pet owners went to the doctor less frequently and took fewer medications than those without pets; pets reduced their owners’ stress, indicated by lower blood pressure levels; since caring for pets often requires exercise, studies have found pet owners to be statistically less obese and have a higher overall level of fitness.
What’s the Big Idea?
The down sides to pet ownership are the financial costs, at least $875 per year for a dog, and the possibility of contracting animal illnesses. One of the most curious results from the studies was that 30% of pet owners said they would try to quit smoking if they thought second-hand smoke was affecting their pet’s health. Compare this to the 2% of people who said they would try to quit smoking if they thought it was bad for their child’s health. In the end, if you can tolerate the smells, scratches and financial burden of having a pet, it may make you a healthier, happier person.