Studies In South Africa Says Pet Owners Are Happier, Healthier



South Africa, due to its consistently shrinking economy has suffered with consequences like poverty and unemployment. As a result, a large section of the population has to deal with various mental health issues such as depression, stress, hypertension, lower self-esteem, and so on. This is a challenging situation for the Africans across the country. Social support becomes a key factor for such individuals when fighting with both mental and physical health problems. In response, people turn out to alternatives species when do not get a sense of belonging from the people around them in such circumstances.


Due to its diverse and super-rich animal culture, people of South Africa are known to have a variety of animals as pets including both domestic and wild species. Dogs, cats, birds, and horses are the preferable household pets. Though people that keep wild animals as pets is small in numbers, but you just cannot ignore them. Some of the most popular wild animals kept as pets include venomous snakes, monkeys, bears, large cats, and even crocodiles. Yes, you read it right! The crocodiles are also found out to be living as a companion animal in South Africa. For many parents, anticipating their child coming home from school with a pet snake or lizard is a frightening thought. South Africans like to keep crocodiles as pets because it does not require a permit to keep them in their backyard. Imagine when a visitor read a notice at the entry point of your house that states "Say Hello To The Crocodile In The Backyard" is a decent way to keep prowlers off your property.

Studies In South Africa Says Pet Owners Are Happier, Healthier


It is a long-standing debate in the country that attributes towards whether keeping animal as a companion contributes towards the health and well-being of South Africans. This has kept many researches interested. Various studies and researches were conducted across the territory in order to find out whether it indeed is the case. People participated in online surveys as well as opinion polls conducted on various social media platforms to stamp their view on pet-human relationship and its contribution towards their overall health from their life experiences. The studies had revealed a significant inverse relationship between pet animals and well-being of their parents.


Here is the list of outcomes from a variety of researches that include various life records deriving from pet owners.

Increase Physical Activity

Whether going for a daily walk out at the park or playing with a tennis ball, keep pet parents mobile. It is believed that dog owners walk 79 percent more each day than people who do not have a dog. This helps burn calories, keep their parents active, and maintain the blood flow across the body. Though such work out will not help one develop a handsome six-pack abs for sure, but it will give more fruitful results than one could get to chill out on a couch watching a boring TV series just because they had paid for the annual subscription.

Improve Health

Research results screamed out the various health benefits of owing an animal as a companion. Studies proved a clear relation between improved health and pet ownership. Pet owners were at reduced risk to illnesses such as obesity, hypertension, heart failure, anxiety. Another report showed that people having felines as animal companions were at 40 percent less risk of cardiovascular illnesses such as heart attacks.

Pet companionship has found to have an instrumental out-turns on human health. Such as reduced visits to the family physician, mental peace and improved sleep.

Evolve Compassion

People involved in the studies were proud to state how pets have helped their kids become more soft-hearted and empathetic. Pets have had helped many pet owner’s kids develop the habit of giving and nurturing. Animals help them learn that both animals and humans have similar social requirements. Most parents confessed caring for another living species have given their children a sense of purpose and meaning.

Psychological Well-Being

Another study revealed that the unconditional love and non-judgmental behavior from their furry friend to help pet owners develop an increased level of self-esteem. The sense of belonging and feeling of ‘to be wanted’ contribute immensely to their mental health. Pets provide a unique form of validation through unquestioning brace that people failed to obtain from their family or other social associations.

Happier Than Ever

Many pet parents agree that their furry friends can be very funny. There are a number of things that dogs and cats do that make their owners laugh. Psychologists indicate that pets reduce the stress in lives and makes people happier. Another study disclosed that 72% of families in South Africa laugh at least once a day as a result of something their furry friend does. They have their own way of showing love to their host that include but not limited to citing kissing, licking or chasing. Hiding out at a different place in the house or jumping out at someone are some of the most common causes of laughter.


Recently an online survey using a standard method was conducted to discover companion animal numbers in South Africa and the effects of animal-human relationship.

The conclusions observed that there were approximately 4 million dogs, about 1 million cats, nearly 1 million birds, approximately 0.20 million other companion animals and about 0.1 million horses in South African households. Nearly forty per cent of families were keeping companion animals, kept dogs; cats close to 15%, birds about 5%, horses about 1.5 % and other companion close to 1%.

In terms of rewards from pet parenting, the results also revealed that nearly 55% dog owners were involved with daily exercise. Along with this, the study showcased the nearly 38% of cat owners were at lower risk of heart-related disorders and about 21% of cat parents were at a decreased possibility of anxiety. In addition, nearly 54% of dog owners found out to see their vet less often than their non-dog owners counterparts.


To conclude, bringing home a pet is an individual’s decision. It may not prove right for everyone. For example, people with hypersensitive may suffer with pet allergies, whereas the senior age people with co-morbidities may find it difficult to cope up with a new puppy.

Keeping all the statistics and data aside, almost all the researches and studies collectively acknowledge that adopted animals offer more than the companionship to their owners. Pets reward their host with better health and an ocean of happiness. So, adopting one is a wise thing to do.


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