benefits of owning pet

Is Owning a Pet Good for our Health?

Dogs have long been known as man’s best friend, but did you know our pets can actually make us physically and mentally healthier?  

Research suggests having a pet may help fight loneliness, make you happy and increase feelings of purpose.  Just being in the presence of our pets can lift our spirits and help us relax!

Pets in Australia

In Australia we have one of the highest pet ownership rates in the world, with approximately two thirds of Australians owning at least one pet. Dogs and cats are the most popular choices, however birds, fish, reptiles, and other small mammals are top choices as well.  

There are over 29 million pets currently in Australia  Approximately 65% of households in Australia own pets, with dogs being the most common (61%), followed by cats (40%). 

Pets are known to have such positive influences on our lives that one study found that Australian ownership of cats and dogs saved approximately $3.86 billion in health expenditure over one year!  (RSPCA)

Why do people get a pet?

It’s not a surprise that companionship and affection are the main reasons for Australians getting a pet.

This is followed by –

  • rescuing animals
  • being given animals
  • teaching children responsibility
  • for relaxation

 

What are the main benefits of owning a pet?

Owning a pet comes with great responsibility, but research suggests it also may come with many great benefits.  

People often think the main benefits are companionship and affection as they reduce loneliness and depression, however another main benefit is the increased opportunities to exercise, get outside, and socialize. Regular walking or playing with pets can decrease blood pressure, cholesterol levels, and triglyceride levels.  

Studies have shown that there are several physical and psychological health benefits, including:

Physical Benefits of owning a pet –

  • Increased cardiovascular health – Lower blood pressure, lower cortisol, cholesterol levels and triglyceride levels. 
  • Boost physical health – Increased opportunities for exercise and outdoor activities; better cognitive function in older adults; and more opportunities to socialize.
  • Less risk of allergies – Growing up with a dog or other pet during infancy may help to strengthen the immune system and reduce the risk of allergies.
  • Less Doctor Visits or Days off- Studies show fewer days off due to illness in school children and fewer trips to the Doctor for all.

Psychological Benefits of owning a pet –

  • Prevent Loneliness – Increased sense of purpose, feelings of affection and love, and reduced feelings of loneliness or isolation
  • Promotes mental health – Patting dogs has been linked to higher levels of the feel-good hormone oxytocin and increased endorphins production.  Pet owners report less depression or anxiety, and can often cope better with grief or stress. 
  • Social Connectedness – Improved social skills and ability to engage with others
  • Childhood Development – Studies show children with pets have improved discipline as they learn to care for their pet.  Children with developmental challenges also benefit greatly, as they have a more predictable routine and pets can provide a soothing sensory experience.

Whilst our pets bring so much joy to our lives, please remember it is a large responsibility.  Whether it’s cats, dogs, fish, gerbils, lizards, or something else, please do your research as to the best type of pet to suit your family.  This will help ensure you will have a friend and companion for life!

benefits of owning pet

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