It is commonly thought that adding an animal to your life has the ability to vastly improve it. Is it a myth or is that really the case?
Science has the answer for us. One study found that the owners of pets were more satisfied with their life than non-pet owners (1). They also found that of all pets, the greatest outcome was by having a Canine companion.
What is more interesting is another study which looked at the comparison between cuddly animals (rabbits) and hard-shelled ones (turtles) (2). They found that both cuddly and non-cuddly animals had the same effect. Now, in a clever study design, they decided to also use soft, plush, toy rabbits, and also toy turtles. They found that - not to our surprise - it took a live animal to have the anxiety-relieving effects.
Ok, that's all interesting, but surely it works so well because these people are animal lovers and putting a furry creature on their lap is their "happy place"?! Well, again, the researchers looked into comparing people who love animals and those who were not. They found that both groups experienced anxiety reduction.
Another study looked at using animals for therapy in psychiatric patients. They found that it reduced anxiety and depression levels (3).
What does that means for us? It means that no matter how much we have to spend, nor how much trouble or cleaning pets can be, the special place they hold in our hearts is good for them, and good for us too!