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, 1 (1), e109

To Have or Not to Have a Pet for Better Health?


To Have or Not to Have a Pet for Better Health?

Leena K Koivusilta et al. PLoS One.


Background: Pet ownership is thought to have health benefits, but not all scientific explorations have been founded on proper applications of representative samples or statistically correct methodologies. Databanks have been too small for proper statistical analyses; or, instead of a random sample, participation has been voluntary. The direction of causality has been evaluated incorrectly or control of relevant factors noted deficient. This study examined the associations of pet ownership with perceived health and disease indicators by taking into account socio-demographic background factors together with health risk factors, including exercise.

Methodology/principal findings: The present study used baseline data from the 15-year Health and Social Support Study (the HeSSup Study). The Finnish Population Register Centre was used to draw population-based random samples stratified according to gender and four age groups (20-24, 30-34, 40-44, and 50-54 years). A total of 21,101 working-aged Finns responded to the baseline survey questionnaire of the 15-year HeSSup Study in 1998. Ordinal and binary logistic regression was used to analyze the cross-sectional data. Pet ownership was associated with poor rather than good perceived health. BMI surfaced as the risk factor most strongly associated with pet ownership.

Conclusions/significance: Pet owners set in their ways and getting older were found to have a slightly higher BMI than the rest. Additional research is needed for the testing of hypotheses involving effects of pet ownership with various health dimensions within population groups that are composed of different kinds of background characteristics.

Conflict of interest statement

Competing Interests: The authors have declared that no competing interests exist.

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