UWA: Pets play an important role in developing healthy neighbourhoods by helping their owners to meet people, make friends and even gain emotional and practical support from these friendships, according to researchers at The University of Western Australia. The research, published in PLOS One, found pet owners were significantly more likely to get to know people in their neighbourhood than non-pet owners.
Lead author Associate Professor Lisa Wood,
from UWA’s School of Population Health, said previous research had
revealed that strong social networks were good for mental and physical
health and the latest study focused on the ability of pets to promote
“We found that around 40 per cent of pet owners reported
receiving one or more types of social support from someone they met
through their pet – this ranged from someone they could talk to about
problems or things that were worrying them, through to being able to ask
someone for advice or practical help,” Associate Professor Wood said.
were the most common pets, but cats, rabbits, birds and guinea pigs
were also included. All pet owners were more likely to know people in
their neighbourhood than those who didn’t own a pet, she said.
loneliness and social isolation a major problem in Australia, pet
ownership may be one way to help those who feel alone. Pets create
opportunities for people to interact and that can lead to deeper