Pet ownership and quality of life: A systematic review of the literature

Kristel J. Scoresby, Elizabeth B. Strand, Zenithson Ng, Kathleen C. Brown, Charles Robert Stilz, Kristen Strobel, Cristina S. Barroso, Marcy Souza

Research output: Contribution to journalReview articlepeer-review

32 Scopus citations


Pet ownership is the most common form of human–animal interaction, and anecdotally, pet ownership can lead to improved physical and mental health for owners. However, scant research is available validating these claims. This study aimed to review the recent peer reviewed literature to better describe the body of knowledge surrounding the relationship between pet ownership and mental health. A literature search was conducted in May 2020 using two databases to identify articles that met inclusion/exclusion criteria. After title review, abstract review, and then full article review, 54 articles were included in the final analysis. Of the 54 studies, 18 were conducted in the general population, 15 were conducted in an older adult population, eight were conducted in children and adolescents, nine focused on people with chronic disease, and four examined a specific unique population. Forty-one of the studies were cross-sectional, 11 were prospective longitudinal cohorts, and two were other study designs. For each of the articles, the impact of pet ownership on the mental health of owners was divided into four categories: positive impact (n = 17), mixed impact (n = 19), no impact (n = 13), and negative impact (n = 5). Among the reviewed articles, there was much variation in population studied and study design, and these differences make direct comparison challenging. However, when focusing on the impact of pet ownership on mental health, the results were variable and not wholly supportive of the benefit of pets on mental health. Future research should use more consistent methods across broader populations and the development of a pet-ownership survey module for use in broad, population surveys would afford a better description of the true relationship of pet ownership and mental health.

Original languageEnglish
Article number332
JournalVeterinary Sciences
Issue number12
StatePublished - Dec 2021

Bibliographical note

Publisher Copyright:
© 2021 by the authors. Licensee MDPI, Basel, Switzerland.


  • Human-animal bond
  • Human-animal interactions
  • Pet ownership mental health

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • General Veterinary


Dive into the research topics of 'Pet ownership and quality of life: A systematic review of the literature'. Together they form a unique fingerprint.

Cite this