4 ways pets improve our lives

LAST UPDATED 1 May 2020

This article is written by Pet Circle veterinarian, Dr Teagan Lever BVSc (Hons)

All pet parents would agree that their fur family brings them joy, comfort and companionship, but did you know that there is a wealth of scientific evidence to demonstrate the measureable ways pets have a positive effect on our life? Read on for four reasons why spending time with your pet is good for you. (As if you need an excuse!)

1. Reduced feelings of loneliness and isolation

Around 80% of pet owners report that their pet helps them feel less lonely and socially isolated, something which is particularly important in our current reality. On top of that, pet ownership appears to make us more likely to connect with our community, whether it's through making friends at the dog park or simply having something to talk about to break the ice.

Why do pets make us feel so good?

When you engage and bond with your pet, it causes the release of the hormone oxytocin (otherwise known as the 'love hormone') in your brain. Oxytocin can have a range of beneficial effects including:

  • • Feelings of relaxation
  • • Reduced stress response
  • • Lowered blood pressure

2. Better mental health

The use of therapy dogs has been demonstrated to help reduce feelings of stress and anxiety, as well as lowering physical signs of stress such as blood pressure.

Pet ownership and animal assisted therapy has also been demonstrated to have a positive effect on those suffering depression and post traumatic stress disorder (PTSD). Trained service dogs have been successfully used to help manage PTSD in military members and veterans, reducing severity and symptoms and improving quality of life and resilience.

3. Better physical health

Pet ownership has been shown to correspond with a lower risk of cardiovascular disease.

  • • Cat owners are at a 40% lower risk of death by heart attack than non cat owners
  • • Pet parents may have a lower risk of coronary artery disease
  • • Pet parents are more likely to have a lower resting blood pressure than non pet parents
  • • Non dog owners are more likely to have high serum cholesterol and diabetes than dog owners who regularly walk their pet

4. More physical activity

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On average, dog owners walk more minutes per week and are 54% more likely to meet recommended levels of physical activity than those who do not own a dog. Dog walking may also be linked with a lower risk of obesity, and has also been shown to help older people to be more connected to their community.

Further Reading

Want to read more? Check out our other articles:

How to ask your landlord for a pet

What is the best harness for my dog?

How to choose a dog breed that's right for you

The benefits of pets in the office

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