Pet Ownership and Health
The relationship between naturally occurring pet ownership and health, both physical and mental, is reviewed. Key methodological issues are discussed at the outset and the emphasis of the review is on recent literature. Collectively, the body of work is inconsistent, with some studies showing profound benefits of pet ownership, some showing no advantage, and others demonstrating poorer health outcomes among pet owners relative to non-owners. What may be most useful to researchers and practitioners at this juncture is not whether pet ownership facilitates good health, but under what circumstances might pet ownership facilitate it. Accordingly, this review describes some of the circumstances in which pet ownership appears to act as a moderator variable in regard to health, and incorporates theoretical approaches that provide a context for understanding the relationship. Recommendations for future research include focusing on quality of life, recruiting ethnically diverse samples, and enlarging the policy applications of the work.
KeywordsHealth Human–animal bond Mental health Pet ownership Social support
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