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.
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. 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. Dogs can also help introduce us to people in the community, especially other dog owners, and they make great conversation starters.
Research has shown that pet owners are generally healthier and happier than non-pet owners. They have lower blood pressure and cholesterol; are less depressed; are at lower risk of heart disease; feel less lonely than non-pet owners; and actually find it easier to get to know people.
Studies have revealed that even just looking at animals can reduce anxiety in times of stress. For example, the simple act of watching a fish tank can induce feelings of calm and relaxation. That’s probably why you see so many fish tanks in doctor's offices!
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 Australian ownership of cats and dogs saved approximately $3.86 billion in health expenditure over one year.
Other benefits of owning a pet include:
If you are considering owning a pet be sure you contact your local RSPCA. 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 ways.
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