A group survey pointed out that half of the respondents believe that keeping pets can help improve mental health, but less than 10% of the respondents said that they would choose to get along with pets to relieve stress. Psychiatrists also pointed out that pets are good for human mental health.
The Companion Animal Information Center conducted a survey in 2004 and randomly interviewed 600 adults by phone. The results showed that nearly 40% of the respondents said they were under great pressure; about 50% of the respondents believed that keeping pets would improve their mental health. It is helpful, but only about 6% of the respondents said that they would choose to get along with their pets to relieve stress. The Companion Animal Information Center believes that the public does not sufficiently understand the benefits of keeping pets and getting along with them.
The 1998 survey results in Australia and Germany fully demonstrated the benefits of keeping companion animals: dog and cat owners tend to seek medical treatment less frequently than non-pet owners, and spend much less time in hospital, which can save a lot of medical expenses.
In Australia, dog and cat owners visit a doctor 12% less than non-owners; in Germany 16% less. They spend an average of 32% less time in the hospital than non-owners; at the same time, dog and cat owners take medication to treat heart disease and sleep difficulties significantly less than non-owners. There is a huge difference in hospitalization time between pet owners and non-owners.
In Western countries, medical care is a huge expenditure, accounting for about 6% to 15% of the gross national product. Therefore, even if the number of medical treatments is reduced, it will save a lot of expenses. In Germany, medical expenditures in 1996 amounted to 354 billion deutsche marks, which accounted for 10% of GDP. Of this expenditure, 96% is public expenditure. In Australia, medical expenditures between 1994 and 1995 amounted to A$36,591 billion, accounting for more than 8% of GDP. Of this expenditure, 68% is public expenditure and 32% is private expenditure.
Among those with companion animals, the older ones benefit more because these people (on average) are not only lonelier than others, but also in poor health. In Australia, more than 60% of people who own cats or dogs see a doctor and take medicines much less than non-owners. In Germany, older men with dogs or cats visit the doctor on average 3.0 times per year for non-owners 4.5 times (a 33% difference); the average number of hospitalization days is 2.2 days for non-owners 6.0 days ( 63% difference).