Pet owners are united by one thing—their love for their furry companions—and most pet owners are rewarded with scientifically proven physical, mental, and emotional benefits. 

The health benefits of pet ownership

  • Unconditional love — The most tangible benefit most pet owners experience, unconditional love is the unique feeling you get when your furry friend, full of love and gratitude, greets you enthusiastically at the door. When you have a bad day, they can comfort you like no one else. This is the No. 1 reason for the popularity of pet ownership.

  • Increased activity — Each dog is different, and owners have different reasons for getting their dog out of the house for exercise. Whatever the reason, the exercise benefits the pet owner and the dog. Some owners need to provide intense exercise to prevent destructive behavior, while other owners may like to take slow, ambling walks with their pooch to enjoy the fresh air. A minimum of 60 minutes of daily exercise is beneficial for our health, and is associated with living longer, and improved mental well-being.

  • Lower blood pressure — Owners who spend time petting and talking to their pets become more relaxed, with a likely drop in blood pressure.

  • Combating loneliness — A study of single, female college students found that those with a pet were less lonely. Pets not only positively affect people with depression or anxiety, but owners without such struggles also experience a positive social benefit from their animals. Pet owners also enjoy more social attention in public from people admiring or asking about their pooch.

Homeless people and pets

During the holidays, most of us experience warm feelings of gratitude, which can also serve as a reminder to be charitable to those less fortunate. Charity toward homeless people who have pets, however, can be a difficult topic. Can a person who does not have a roof over his own head provide a furry companion with a good quality of life? Is a warm place to sleep, enough quality food, and access to medical care a prerequisite for pet ownership? Popular opinion is that supporting homeless people and their pets benefits the person, the pet, and the community.

Although the homelessness issue can be debated, pets provide numerous benefits to the homeless, including:

  • Unconditional love — As families living in homes benefit from the relationships with their pets, it may be more important for homeless community members to have this connection. Homelessness causes feelings of depression and isolation, but a pet provides vital, non-judgmental companionship. Several studies have found that homeless people form stronger bonds with their pets than homeowners, because the pet is their entire world.

  • Reduction in drug and alcohol abuse —  A positive correlation has been found between pet ownership among the homeless and reduced drug and alcohol abuse. When surveyed, many owners said the pressure of responsibility to keep their pet safe and fed was the reason for avoiding their addictions. However, some owners also said they would not seek help for their addiction, because they would not be able to take care of their pet.

  • Reduced criminal behavior — Although a few homeless pet owners said they may commit petty crimes to ensure they and their pets were fed and clothed, many reported that they abstained from crime more than non-pet owners, because criminal behavior increased the risk that they would be arrested, and their pets would be alone, without any care. 

Arrow Dog and Cat Hospital loves all pets, no matter their owner’s financial situation. That’s why we work with the Veterinary Care Charitable Fund (VCCF), created by the American Veterinary Medical Foundation (VMCF), which works to provide veterinary care to pet owners facing personal hardships, and animals suffering from injury, abuse, or neglect. This fund helps to save and improve the lives of many animals who walk through our doors. If you would like to support these animals in need, please click here.