Almost 70% of U.S. households have pets, representing more than a twenty percent increase over the past 25 years. The vast majority of these pets are dogs and cats, but there isn’t a great deal of research on why Americans have become more likely to have pets.

There are studies that show that people who have a pet, especially a dog or cat, are in generally better physical and mental health as they age, as well as surveys revealing that more U.S. households have pets than children. In addition, the market for pet-oriented products and services has grown by 450% over the past 25 years.

But nowhere could I find any studies on why more households have pets. I did find a poll by Morning Consult that reported that pet owners felt their pets helped reduce stress and anxiety, provided unconditional love and support, offered companionship, and provided a calming presence.

Some 75 years ago, President Harry Truman made the observation that, “If you want a friend in Washington, D.C., get a dog.” Having spent almost 20 years in that politico-economic climate, I’d agree.

Every morning, our two dachshunds are glad to see me, and the same is true any time I leave them and then return, even if it’s only fifteen minutes. That kind of spontaneous joy almost never occurs in academia, law, business, or politics and happens but infrequently in the dogless household.

As Americans become more personally and socially isolated [and texting doesn’t reduce isolation] as well as politically polarized, the non-judgmental warmth and welcome of a dog becomes more and more attractive in a world that’s becoming colder, more impersonal, and more demanding. Even our cat is far warmer than most people I had to deal with in politics or that my wife has to deal with in academia.

But that’s just my observation, not a peer-reviewed, statistically grounded psychological treatise, although I’m sure our dachshunds would agree. The cat would likely refuse to take sides, but he’d still settle in beside me while I’m reading.

4 thoughts on “Pets”

  1. KTL says:

    100% agree. My wife and I have had 2-4 dogs at any one time for over 40 years. I have to say that the dogs are always that ‘port in a storm’ when either of us is feeling bad.

    Guess which president did not have a dog in the White House??? :-)) Just saying. No cat either.

  2. Tim says:

    My own take on dogs and is that they provide unjudgmental close companionship and there is a reciprocal duty to care for them which gives you a sense of responsibility.

    My cats on the other hand …

  3. Tom says:

    WHY Have a Pet?

    CDC: There are many health benefits of owning a pet. They can increase opportunities to exercise, get outside, and socialize. Regular walking or playing with pets can decrease blood pressure, cholesterol levels, and triglyceride levels. Pets can help manage loneliness and depression by giving us companionship.,depression%20by%20giving%20us%20companionship.

    Similar comments:
    Updated: Jun 21, 2023 Good review of owning a pet but no poll on why people own pets.

    Characteristics of households with “Pets” but not a poll of why have a pet.

  4. KevinJ says:

    Just wanted to mention that there’s nothing to enhance the reading experience like a cat curled up in your lap.

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