Research Confirms It: Adopting More Pets Improves Happiness!


If you have a pet, you know that being around them brings you joy. So, it makes sense that pet parents would be much happier than pet-less individuals. Now, a new study proves that people with animals in their families are noticeably happier than those without pets. People with dogs in the study were also happier than those living with cats.

This research answered a lot of important questions, including ‘what animals make people the happiest?,’ ‘do more pets mean more happiness?,’ and ‘are happy people more likely to adopt pets?’ If you were looking for an excuse to adopt another dog, this study might be it!


How Did the Study Work?

Tracking Happiness surveyed 12,167 people. The individuals didn’t know that this was a pet-related survey beforehand. Each person was asked the following two questions in this order:

  1. If you look back at the last year of your life, how would you rate your happiness on a scale from 1 to 10?
  2. Does your household currently have a pet?

Then, Tracking Happiness took the result to create averages for pet parents and those without pets. They also gathered data about the number of pets, types of pets, and when the pets were adopted.

Are People Happier with Pets?

Yes! The results showed that on average, people with pets are much happier than those without pets. On a scale from one to ten, pet owners averaged 7.01 while pet-less individuals averaged 6.26.

9,663 of those surveyed had at least one pet while 2,504 didn’t have any pets.

Man cuddling with cat

Which Pets Make People Happiest?

Then, Tracking Happiness analyzed the average score for people owning each type of pet. While dogs were by far the most common pets, followed by cats, they didn’t take the top spot. Here are the results:

  • Horses: 7.37
  • Dogs: 7.29
  • Birds: 7.28
  • Ferrets: 7.28
  • Fish: 7.25
  • Hamsters: 7.06
  • Reptiles: 6.97
  • Cats: 6.95
  • Rabbits: 6.82
  • Guinea Pigs: 6.50
  • Pet-less: 6.26

So, even though cats were the second most popular pets, their humans were 5% less happy than dog parents. Of course, these results could be a coincidence since the study didn’t focus on other aspects of people’s lives. However, the results suggest that horse owners might be the happiest because people who own horses might be healthier and more financially stable.

Did Pandemic Pets Improve Happiness?

The number of people adopting animals during the COVID-19 pandemic greatly increased. But did those pandemic pets make a difference for their humans’ emotional states? Research suggests that they did!

4,565 individuals in the survey got a new pet during the pandemic, and they had an average of 7.36 on the happiness scale. Yet, the 5,098 people who had a pet before the pandemic only scored an average of 6.70. Both categories still scored higher than the pet-less group.

So, it’s suggested that getting a new pet during the pandemic significantly improved happiness.

Happy woman and dog

Do the Number of Pets Affect Happiness?

More pets mean more happiness. At least, that’s what dog lovers have been saying for years. Based on the results of this study, those assumptions are accurate. Individuals with two pets had a higher happiness average than those with only one. Then, those with three or more pets ranked drastically higher than the other two. As usual, the pet-less category was far below all of these.

So, having three or more pets could be the key to happiness! If your family and friends question why you keep adopting more animals, now you have research to back up your decisions.

Are Happy People More Likely to Adopt More Pets?

As it turns out, happy people are also more likely to adopt pets in the future. Just over 60% of the people who picked 10 on the happiness scale said they will likely want a pet or more pets in the future. Only about 35% of those who picked 1 said the same.

Every score in between varied slightly, but the higher scores generally had the highest percentages. If this research has proved anything, it’s that people will feel even happier when they adopt a pet. Yet, if you want another pet, make sure you’re prepared first.

Woman holding dog

Solid Proof or Just a Coincidence?

Some of the aspects of this study could be a coincidence, but there’s some truth in what it’s saying. Of course, it didn’t include everyone in the world and it didn’t consider other factors of happiness. But if you have a pet of your own, you probably know how happy they make you. So, it’s safe to say that there are other people out there who feel the same way.

Adopting a pet is such an uplifting and rewarding experience. So, if you’re able, adding more pets to your family could improve your happiness, along with that animal’s happiness too.


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