The potential benefits of pet ownership are often touted in popular media, but the reality is more complex than that. While there are some potential benefits associated with pet ownership, there are also a variety of health risks that should be taken into consideration. From the potential spread of zoonotic diseases and allergies, to mammal bites, and even the avoidance of medical care, there are a number of ways in which pet ownership and interaction with animals can have a direct negative impact on human health. To better understand the effects of pet ownership on human health, a study was conducted by RAND Corporation in Canada.
Quotas were imposed to recruit an equal number of pet and non-pet owners; finally, the sample included 1,220 pet owners and 1,204 pet owners who did not have pets. All statistical analyses included a post-stratification weight to ensure the representativeness of the current sample in relation to the Canadian population in general, take into account sociodemographic factors that could confuse and maximize the comparability of subgroups of pets and non-pet owners; the application of post-stratification weight to current data ensured that comparisons between pets and non-pet owners were fair. A significantly higher proportion of pet owners compared to non-pet owners completed the questionnaire in French. The results of this study showed that there were no significant differences between pet owners in physical and mental health and people who didn't own pets, although pet owners were slightly worse off in some measures. This suggests that while popular media often portray pets as beneficial to human health and mental health, the reality is more complex than this.
It is important to consider sociodemographic factors such as race, ethnicity, and family wealth when assessing the effects of pet ownership on human health. Animals can carry parasites that can be transferred to humans, such as Toxoplasma gondii, which can enter the brain and cause a condition known as toxoplasmosis. People with compromised immune systems are particularly vulnerable to this. In addition, animal feces contain bacteria that can make you sick. Dogs and cats can also cause allergic reactions in some pet owners. In conclusion, while there are potential benefits associated with pet ownership, it is important to be aware of the potential risks as well.
People should take into account their own individual circumstances when considering whether or not to get a pet.