←Go back to RSPCA

RSPCA Australia knowledgebase

RSPCA Australia Knowledgebase

Search:     Advanced search

What are the health benefits of pet ownership?

Article ID: 408
Last updated: 09 May, 2014
Add comment
Views: 31928
Comments: 0

We’ve long loved dogs for being man’s best friend, but not so well known is that our pets can actually make us physically and mentally healthier. Just the presence of our pets can lift our spirits and help us relax.

Physical health benefits

Research has shown that owning a pet has a number of physical health benefits

  • Increased cardiovascular health (lower blood pressure and lower cholesterol)
  • Increased physical activity. Dogs especially help us get out and enjoy the outdoors while getting some regular exercise. They are great motivators and personal trainers, never wanting to miss a training session no matter the weather.
  • Fewer visits to the doctor
  • Growing up with a dog (and other pets to a lesser extent) during infancy may help to strengthen the immune system and can reduce the risk of allergies
  • Children who have pets are less likely to miss days of school due to illness

The joy of having a pet isn’t new to most Australians; we have one of the highest rates of pet ownership in the world. In fact our pets are 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.

Psychological benefits

Research has shown that owning a pet has a number of psychological benefits

  • School children who own pets are more popular with their classmates and also more empathetic.
  • Children or adolescents who have a pet have higher self-esteem. Teenagers who own pets have a more positive outlook on life and report less loneliness, restlessness and boredom.
  • Pet owners suffer from less depression and are able to cope with grief, stress and loss better than non-pet owners.
  • Pets enhance social connectedness and social skills and are great conversation starters!
  • Pets are also great caregivers. They keep us company when we’re sick or feeling down. They can make us feel safe while we’re home alone and they keep an eye on the house while we’re out.

For more details please see these useful links:

Pets and community health 

Australian Companion Animal Council (ACAC)

If you are considering owning a pet be sure you contact your local RSPCA. You can view some of the animals available for adoption at the RSPCA on the Adoptapet website.

Pets offered for adoption by the RSPCA are all thoroughly health checked by a vet, desexed, microchipped and vaccinated and have been temperament tested. And you don’t have to adopt a dog or cat to find a great pet companion, The RSPCA is often looking for new homes for a variety of smaller animals including rabbits, guinea pigs, ferrets, mice and rats. They can all provide friendship, companionship and happiness in their own special way.

This website provides general information which must not be relied upon or regarded as a substitute for specific professional advice, including veterinary advice. We make no warranties that the website is accurate or suitable for a person’s unique circumstances and provide the website on the basis that all persons accessing the website responsibly assess the relevance and accuracy of its content.
Add comment
Also read
document What should I consider before taking my dog to the office?

Prev   Next
What are the common health problems in pet guinea pigs?     What can I do in hot weather to prevent heatstroke in my pet?