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There is much love to be found in relationships between pets and their owners. And, as love influences our lives for the better, so do our pets make us happier.

  • According to one psychological study, pet ownership improves people's happiness in a meaningful way because relationships with pets complement human relationships rather than substituting one for the other. In essence, pets increase the total happiness an owner can possibly experience. 
  • Another medical study suggests that people benefit from their pets in terms of improved health. 

Even if data suggests that with love comes improved happiness, if other basic components of a person's happiness, such as economic wealth, employment, and health, are lacking, owning a pet will only do so much to increase a person's happiness. Using primary pet ownership data—collected through a pet ownership survey of 27,000 people from 22 countries—paired with information about happiness levels worldwide, we found that while there is a positive dependence between pet ownership and the level of people's happiness, this relationship did not hold across all countries.

  • More than half of the respondents to the pet ownership survey by GfK, a market research company, live with at least one pet, with respondents in Latin America being the most likely to live with a pet, closely followed by Poland, Russia, and the United States. Respondents from Asian countries were least likely to own pets.
  • By comparing this data with the happiness levels derived from the World Happiness Report published by the Sustainable Development Solutions Network (SDSN) notable differences emerged between countries. While people from Eastern European countries, such as Poland and Russia, are very likely to have pets, people in these countries are not entirely happy, suggesting that other important components of their well being remain unmet. In contrast, high-income countries of Western Europe, including Germany, Netherlands, Sweden, and the UK, are happy even without much help from pets because of favorable living conditions.

Conclusion? If you can afford a pet, you should live with a pet to increase your chances for greater happiness.