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College students find comfort in their pets during hard times
Date:12/23/2008

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Participants were asked to indicate their current level of health, the type of pet(s) owned, and whether they believed a pet affected their overall health. They were then asked to identify their top reasons for owning a pet in both multiple-choice and open-ended surveys. The results were recently published in the journal Society and Animals.

The results showed that most adults and college students chose to own a pet for similar reasons. Although the results were based on self-reports, many of those surveyed believed their pet contributed to their overall health in a number of ways.

Nearly a quarter of all college students and adults reported that their pet was useful in keeping them active. This answer was more common for those who owned dogs, but those who had feline friends also reported their cat helped keep them active.

Likewise, 18 percent of college students and 13 percent of adults said their pet was important to helping them cope during difficult times. This belief was far more likely among those who were single rather than married, but it was listed by both groups in both open-ended and multiple choice questions.

But the results showed that avoiding loneliness was the top reason given by both students and adults. Nearly identical percentages of married and single persons gave this response, but students and those over 50 years of age were far more likely to list this as their top reason.

While previous work has demonstrated that the elderly benefit from animal companionship, this study is the one of the first to suggest that animal companions help those younger than 30 years of age, Staats said.

"Most of the studies on pet ownership focus directly on those adults and older generations who have heart problems or special needs. But there hasn't been much recognition of that fact that young, healthy college students also derive benefits from pet ownership such as hedge against lone
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Contact: Sara Staats
staats.1@osu.edu
740-366-9279
Ohio State University
Source:Eurekalert

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