Another setup with a group of 56 dog owners confirmed the benefits of receiving social support from pets - or at least fancying receiving support. Either way, owners' feelings seemed to complement existing relationships with humans rather than compete with them.
A third experiment, with a sample of 97 undergrads, looked at participants' reactions to rejection and whether thinking about their pets provided social support. It turns out thinking about pets made people feel just as good as keeping a supportive best friend in mind.
Though the associations between pet ownership and higher well-being are intriguing, causation's difficult to prove. Could it be that more secure and outgoing people are attracted to certain pets - dogs in particular?
It's also true that owning a pet isn't for everyone, especially if you have severe allergies or don't have the time to dedicate to a furry, feathered or scaly roommate. What about the people who surrender their pets because they couldn't provide the best care for them? In those cases, would it be far-fetched to say that ownership negatively affected well-being?