Your Pet May Help You Live Longer, Research Says

Can pets help you live longer? According to the Human Animal Bond Research Institute (HABRI), the answer is, yes. The human-animal bond can play an important role in the healthy aging process, HABRI officials said in a statement.

"Among its many benefits, research suggests that pet ownership can facilitate resiliency against cardiovascular disease, reduce obesity and improve physical activity, provide important social support and even reduce overall risk of mortality over the long-term," officials added.

To help build awareness of the benefits of owning a pet, HABRI recently released a shareable infographic outlining the results from a collection of scientific researching findings indicating the benefits of pets for a longer, healthier life.

Among the key benefits, as outlined in the infographic:

Pet owners live longer.

"Several studies have demonstrated an association between pet ownership and a lower risk of cardiovascular diseases and heart-related health issues," officials said. "Dog ownership has been associated with a lower incidence of cardiovascular disease and a reduced risk of mortality. Specifically, in a prospective study including 3.4 million individuals with 12 years of follow-up, dog ownership was associated with a lower risk of incident cardiovascular disease in single-person households and lower mortality in the general population."

Pets facilitate healing and resiliency against cardiovascular disease.

"Pet ownership has been linked to increased coronary artery disease survival," officials said. "In a study of individuals with one or more cardiac risk factors, pet ownership was associated with greater adaptability to disturbances in the cardiovascular system."

Pet ownership increases physical activity and reduces obesity.

"Research has shown that pet owners, particularly dog owners, are more likely to meet the recommended amount of physical activity through walking," officials said. "Results of one study found that compared with non-dog owners, the odds of obtaining at least 150 minutes per week of total walking were 34 percent higher for dog walkers, and the odds of doing any physical activity were 69 percent higher."

Pets reduce stress levels.

"Research supports interacting with one’s own pet for reduced stress and lower responses to stress," officials said.

Pet owners are more socially connected.

"In older adults, the role of pet ownership may provide a sense of purpose and meaning, reducing loneliness and increasing socialization," officials said. "These benefits may also increase resilience in older adults against mental health disorders, which may positively influence their mental health outcome."

Further, in a 2014 survey of 1,000 family doctors and general practitioners, 97 percent of respondents believed there are health benefits that result from owning a pet, and 75 percent of physicians said they saw one or more of their patients’ overall health improve as a result of pet ownership.

The majority of doctors (60 percent) had recommended a pet to a patient, with 43 percent of those doctors recommending the pet to improve overall health and 17 percent recommending the pet for a specific condition.

"HABRI encourages sharing this infographic far and wide to remind people that in addition to providing us with much needed companionship and joy, pets can contribute to longer, healthier lives for all," officials said.

The infographic is part of an ongoing series to help share human-animal bond research and share the message that pets enrich our lives, in good times and in bad, according to officials. In May, HABRI released the Top 5 Mental Health Benefits of Pets. In April, HABRI shared the Top 5 Benefits of the Human-Animal Bond.