Having a pet around offers many benefits. They can be a friend, faithful companion, someone to make you exercise or simply to greet you when you get home. There are also proven health benefits of pet ownership. That’s what this page is all about, five tangible health benefits of having a pet.
While all pets have varying degrees of influence over our wellbeing, it is mainly interactive pets such as cats and dogs that influence us most. Other animals such as rabbits, guinea pigs, hamsters and fish can all offer varying levels of feedback, it is cats and dogs that we mainly refer to on this page.
However, if you can get any of these benefits from other animal types, don’t let us stop you enjoying their company!
Benefit 1 – Heart health
The American Centers for Disease Control and Prevention have recently demonstrated that owning a pet lowers blood pressure, cholesterol and triglyceride levels. All known to affect heart health and minimise the risk of heart attacks. Interactive pets such as cats and dogs are especially powerful in this regard. Dogs especially as they force you to exercise more by requiring regular exercise.
Benefit 2 – Counter depression
Whether you’re just feeling down or something more serious, cuddling up to a pet is known to combat loneliness, depression and other negative feelings. Interacting with a pet can help lift your mood, make you laugh and help socialise both of you. There is even Animal-assisted therapy in some countries because the effect can be so profound.
Benefit 3 – Stronger immune system
Owners of animals tend to have a stronger immune system as they are exposed to more kinds of bacteria. Children who grow up with animals especially benefit from this as their systems grow up coping with a range of bacteria and illnesses that children without animals don’t get exposed to. The instances of allergies in children with animals in the home is also much lower.
Benefit 4 – Social interaction
Even if you prefer your own company to that of others, increased socialisation is another health benefit of having a pet. Meeting people makes us happy and can help break the ice if you’re shy or force you to talk to people even if you really don’t want to. Once you get used to it, it soon becomes second nature. While indirect, the health benefits of socialisation can be profound for both you and your pet.
Benefit 5 – Psychological benefits
According to the RSCPA in Australia, pet ownership has mental benefits above and beyond coping with depression. Owners tend to be more popular and more comfortable socialising (see above). They also have a high self-worth, higher self-esteem and can cope with life events much better. All these psychological advantages have a positive impact on every element of your life.