According to the 2017-2018 National Pet Owners Survey, 68% of U.S. households (about 85 million families) own a pet. This number is up a whopping 56% since the first survey conducted in 1988 and has led to a steady increase in the amount of money people are spending to keep their pets happy and healthy.
In 2018, the American Pet Products Association (APPA) estimated that Americans were on track to spend approximately $72.13 billion on their pets, up $2.62 billion from the confirmed numbers of 2017.
But aside from spending our hard-earned money on our four-legged friends what do pet owners really get out of the relationship?
Whether it stems from picking up after them or tossing a toy around, pets keep us moving more than we may realize. While it is still recommended to get at least 30 minutes of physical activity a day, there are a number of extra steps and activities done by people who are actively caring for their pets.
As much as our pets can help us keep active, they can also help us to unwind. Studies suggest a correlation between petting dogs and lower blood pressure rates. Cat owners can also experience the therapeutic effects of pet ownership when their cats purr, as the sound fluctuates between 20-140 Hz — which is believed to be a medically therapeutic tone. And according to a University of Minnesota’s Stroke Institute’s study, cat owners also tend to be at a lower risk of heart attack.
Most notably, there has recently been an uptick in claims of pets being considered emotional support animals. Unlike service animals which are relegated to dogs and miniature horses by the Americans with Disabilities Act, emotional support animals can be any type of animal that provides emotional comfort to their owner.
More than anything, our pets give us a sense of purpose. This can be especially apparent in elderly individuals and those prone to experiencing depression and anxiety symptoms. Pets can also help us to socialize more by being conversation starters or by pushing us to get out on walks, to local parks, or even to pet-friendly events often in the company of other pet owners.
Show Your Love
Have you recently added a new four-legged member to your family? Make sure you are getting them the same protection you would invest in for yourself. Our pets are wholly dependent on us; not just for love and attention, but also for their overall health including diet, exercise, enrichment, and regular veterinary checkups.
Visit your association website to learn more about the pet insurance offerings that may be available to you.