Many pet owners would happily agree that their pets do wonders for their health and make them far happier people than they would be without them. However, there is now substantial information which recognises that owning a pet can make you a more caring person.
A research team based in the US have discovered that young adults who have formed a strong bond with their pets feel more connected within their communities and relationships.
The developmental psychologist Megan Mueller who is based at the Cummings School of Veterinary Medicine spoke to more than 500 people between the ages of 18-26 about their attitudes and level of pet interaction.
Their responses allowed the research team to measure characteristics such as competence, caring, happiness and confidence.
Published in the journal ‘Applied Developmental Science’, the research found that an increased level of attachment to a pet corresponded with higher levers of confidence, empathy and the ability to connect with people.
Dr Mueller said: ‘Our findings suggest that it may not be whether an animal is present in an individual’s life that is most significant but rather the quality of that relationship. ‘We can’t draw causal links with this study but it is a promising starting point to better understanding the role of animals in our lives, especially when we are young.’
Those who care for animals on a regular basis are reportedly more likely to be engaged in activities which provide for their communities, along with helping friends or family, in comparison with those who do not. The more a person contributed to an animal’s care, the higher they scored in those areas.