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Copyright 2013 Natural Standard (
January 2007

Pets for Health?

Pet owners may be less healthy than people who do not own pets, a new study reports.

Finnish researchers at the University of Turku found that despite the exercise many owners get from walking their pets, they tend to get less exercise and have a higher body mass index (BMI) than their petless counterparts.

The study examined over 21,000 working-aged people. Pet owners smoked slightly more often and exercised less often than those who didn't have pets, the researchers reported.

The study also found that 40 to 44-year-olds have the most pets while 20 to 24-year-olds have the fewest. Pet ownership is linked to slightly poorer physical health in older people, and to slightly poorer emotional health in younger people. Pet owners smoke more cigarettes but drink less alcohol than those without pets. And lastly, people reporting poor health are more likely to have pets.

The researchers noted that pets may offer health benefits that the study did not measure.


  1. Koivusilta L, Ojanlatva A. PloS ONE, December 2006; vol 1: pp e109. News release, Public Library of Science. View Article.
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