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2018 Study Explains Why Dog Owners are Happier than Cat Owners

Dogs and Cats are the two most popular pets in the United States, but between Dogs and Cats which is more preferred by American households and why?


A survey by General Social Survey found that 6 in every 10 American households own a pet. Their study went further to reveal how pet ownership overlaps with all sorts of factors of social interest, amongst them; HAPPINESS. According to the research, showing the percentage of pet ownership in the United States, 33% of American families own only Dog as a pet, 14% of American families own both dog and cat, while 11% own only cat. On the other hand, 39% of American families have not Pets at all, and 4% of the respondents were indifferent.


Analyzing the rate of happiness of the respondents in accordance with the type of pet they owned, it was found that Dog owners were the happiest with a score of 36%. Those who own no pets at all came second with 32%, those who owned both Dog and Cat scored 28%, and the Cat only owners scored 18%.


Why are Dog Owners Happier than Cat Owners or Owners of other types of Pets?

Merely interviewing pet owners to come up with a theory stipulating that happiness is linked to, and is as a result of pet ownership seems a little bit superfluous. But, not when you compare the result arrived at in 2018 by the research conducted by General Social Survey to those conducted earlier on by other independent researchers, even as far back as 12 years ago. In fact, it is unequivocal that previous studies largely corroborates the 2018 research findings.


In 2006 a research by Pew Research Center found rather mixed results in that there were no significant differences found as between Dog owners and Cat owners. Analysts have however flawed the report because it made no distinction between people who owned "only" a  Dog or a Cat, and those who owned "either" a Dog or a Cat, thereby potentially muddying the distinctions between exclusive dog and Cat owners.


An advancement was made in 2013. A study by Hayley Christian, Carri Westgarth, Adrian Bauman, and Elizabeth Richard reviewed Dog Ownership and Physical Activity using field evidence. The study found that Dog owners are more likely to engage in outdoor physical activity than people who don't own dogs, with obvious benefits for health and happiness. Also a 2015 study by Dennis Turner, Gerulf Rieger and Lorenz Gygax, 'Spouses and Cats and Their Effects on Human Mood', found that the presence of a Cat in the home leads to fewer negative emotions, but does not necessarily increase positive emotions.


Again, Katherine Jacobs Bao and George Schreer in their 2016 work, 'Pets and Happiness: Examining the Association between Pet Ownership and Wellbeing' also reveals that Dog owners are happier than Cat Owners. This was partly attributed to the contrast between some personality differences. For example, People who own a Dog tend to be more agreeable, more extroverted and less neurotic than Cat owners.


Establishing these findings further, General Social Survey, 2018 found that 63% of Dog owners seek comfort from their pet as against 51% of Cat owners who do that; 76% of Dog owners play with their pet as against 65% of Cat owners who do that; and 93% of Dog owners consider their pet a member of their family, while 83% consider their Cat a family member. Again, when walking their Dogs, a lot of random encounters occur, which results in Dog owners being more likely to form friendships with people in their neighborhoods - These social connections further contribute to greater well-being among dog owners.


In times of stress, a Dog owner seeks comfort from his pet, when bored he plays with his pet, and both the dog and the owner are capable of supporting each other as a family. These suggest a stronger social bond with their pet, which increases the rate of their happiness and creates a greater sense of well-being.

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