Pets are known to play a supportive role in people's lives. However, their role in helping individuals to cope with stress and in enhancement of their social connectedness needs to be established. This case-control study was performed to compare the stress levels between pet owners and non–pet owners, to correlate the stress levels with the extent of pet attachment and to assess the relationship between pet attachment and social support among pet owners. Data were collected using an interview schedule among urban residents aged more than 12 years. The stress levels, social support, and the extent of pet attachment were assessed using standard questionnaires. A total of 122 pet owners from 108 houses and an equivalent number of non–pet owners from 82 houses took part in this study. The mean perceived stress score among pet owners (n = 122) was 24.8 ± 6.7 compared with 23.0 ± 7.0 among non–pet owners (n = 122) (t = 2.064, P = 0.04). The mean pet attachment score among married (n = 77) and unmarried/divorced/widow (n = 42) pet owners was 49.1 ± 7.7 and 55 ± 8.2, respectively (t = 3.954, P < 0.001). There was a significant correlation between the time (in hours) spent with the pet in a day and with the pet attachment score (r = 0.272, P = 0.003). The mean of the emotional component of the social support survey mean score was 3.6 ± 0.8 and 3.8 ± 1.0 among pet owners (n = 120) and non–pet owners (n = 122), respectively (t = 2.19, P = 0.029). There was a significant correlation between pet attachment scores and mean of the emotional component of the social support survey scores among pet owners (r = 0.211, P = 0.022). There was no association between pet/dog ownership status and frequency of morning/evening walks among participants. Pet attachment was greater among participants who were not married. Among pet owners, those with greater pet attachment were found to have higher mean of the mean scores of the emotional component of the social support survey. In other aspects, however, no benefits were associated with pet ownership.
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