The Power of Pets: Enhancing Wellbeing Through Companionship

Pets have been shown to have a significant positive impact on wellbeing. Owners can have significant attachments to them. A survey of over 1,000 pet owners revealed that 50% of respondents see their pet as part of the family, 35% have a family portrait that includes their pet and 25% of married couples/couples who live together say their pet is a superior listener than their partner. Pets have been shown to supplement the owner’s support and rival the owner’s support network. 

Emotional Support Animals: Unconditional Love and Mental Health Benefits

Evidence shows the greater your social support the greater your psychology and physical health. For some pet owners, the support offered by their pets matches the support given by parents and/or siblings. Compared to people who do not own pets, pet owners are 6% less likely to die within a year of having a heart attack. Elderly patients with pets have fewer doctor visits compared to elderly patients without pets. Patients who have significant disabilities caused by trauma or spinal cord injuries who were given a service dog showed higher levels of self-esteem and a higher level of belief in how much control they feel they have relating to their behaviour compared to patients who were not given a service dog. Research shows that thinking about your pet can help to reduce negative feelings when experiencing social rejection or loneliness. 

Pets as Healing Companions: The Surprising Physical Health Benefits

Pets and animals are used around the world to bring joy and assistance to people. Therapy dogs have been used by “Save the Children” in Ukraine to console and soothe children impacted by the war. As well as guide dogs for the blind there are also “Hearing Dogs” who help those with an impairment of their hearing. They can alert their owner to warning alarms or phone alerts. Additionally, dogs have been trained to sniff out diseases such as Covid 19 and forewarn owners with diabetes when their medication is needed. Friendly dogs also go into nursing homes, schools and even hospitals to help improve well-being. 


It is not just dogs that have been beneficial. In the San Francisco International Airport, they have a pig called Lilou who wears a pilot hat and assists people who are anxious about flying. In the UK, there is a miniature horse called Digby who assists a lady who is partially sighted to travel by train. Digby also knows how to use disabled exits. Also in the UK, Alpacas are taken into care homes to help the residents improve their wellbeing and forgetfulness.

As you can see pets can be a rich source of support and companionship. However, it can be a big responsibility and there is a financial cost attached to looking after a pet. Yet, the amount of positivity they can bring to your help can be seen as priceless. They help emotionally by providing support and lowering anxiety levels. They can help physically by guiding people who need assistance and alerting owners to their health needs. 

PETS Therapy benefits for children: responsibility, happiness & Joy

Having recently got a puppy, I can say first-hand that it is a lot of work and an additional cost, but I cannot imagine not having our little Chilli and I cannot imagine a life without him. He teaches our children about responsibility. You can’t go for a walk without someone stopping you to say hello and therefore increasing the connections with our local community. While on walks with him, people will often stop us and give him a stroke and a play, and it brings a big smile to their faces. 

The world can feel a little bleak at the moment. Having a pet can help to bring so much joy and improve so many aspects of our well-being. There are even apps that can help to link people who would like to have a pet but cannot commit to fully owning a pet, to owners with pets who need a break or want to go on holiday. So there are options for temporary ownership as well, so why not give it a go? The benefits of having a pet will be worth the happiness!


  • McConnell A, Brown C, Shoda T, Stayton L, Martin C. Friends with benefits: on the positive consequences of pet ownership. Journal of Personality and Social Psychology; 2011; 101 (6): 1239-1252
  • The loyal friends that became our helpers. The Week Junior; March 2023; 380: 12-13

Thanks for Reading our Pet Therapy Benefits blog!

If you enjoyed reading this article about the benefits of having a pet, please check out our other Blogs

Pet Therapy Benefits
Pet ownership
Therapy animals
Emotional support animals
Pet-assisted interventions
Animal-assisted therapy

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