Interacting with animals does appear to benefit humans, but it is not clear the precise cause(s) of these benefits and why they occur.
This article notes that while many people report that owning a pet is good for the owner's mental health, there are both positives and negatives regarding pet ownership as follows:
- Owning animals may encourage physical activity.
- Mental health and wellbeing may improve due to pets providing companionship.
- Pet owners before the pandemic had poorer mental health than non-pet owners.
- Pet owners showed less deterioration in their mental health and feelings of loneliness during the lockdown.
- Pets can exacerbate mental health symptoms.
- During the pandemic, pet owners worried about who would care for their pets if they (the owner) became sick.
- Some owners delayed seeking healthcare for themselves as they did not want to be separated from their pets.
The article concludes that there is little evidence to suggest that non-pet owners would benefit from acquiring a pet. Worth thinking about the benefits of pet ownership.