How your pet can improve your health & wellbeing

With science to back up the “warm and fuzzies” of time spent with your pet, we explore the real health benefits of animal companionship.

Our love for animals became apparent last year with a brow-raising statistic: 50% of Australians share their home with a pet cat or dog, compared to 35% who share their household with at least one child under the age of 16. While this could say many things about our population, one thing is for certain: as a nation, we are pet obsessed.

Offering company, devotion, routine, and value to family life, it makes sense to call them “companion” animals. Beyond companionship, evidence suggests that connecting with animals can have a lasting and positive impact on owners’ health.

Benefits to our physical health: the “pet-effect”

The positive impact of pet ownership on physical health and overall well-being (aka “the pet-effect”) is so compelling that one study estimated that cat and dog ownership saved approximately $3.86 billion in health expenditure over a year in Australia.

From a prevention perspective, the advantage of owning a pet is clear: animals which require exercise (primarily dogs) incidentally get owners moving too.

A study found that dog owners are 54% more likely to get the recommended level of physical activity than those without a pooch.

With fitness directly reducing the risk of obesity-associated illness, it’s easy to draw a link between pet ownership and improved health.

Pets as healers

Benefits extend beyond exercise. Research has found pet owners show improved recovery rates from heart surgery. An Animal Assisted Therapy (AAT) trial with dogs has seen wonders in care for Alzheimer’s patients, assisting with loneliness, morale, eating habits, and overall health.1 Animal interaction as part of AAT has also been beneficial in the management of childhood ADHD. Overall, pets boost self-esteem and empathy for children and teenagers.

Close up image of a dog and senior lady's hand

Animals have been proven to improve quality of life for both young and old.

The stressed can also benefit from time with Fido and Felix. Companion animals have been attributed to lower blood pressure and cholesterol in their owners, as well as keeping their heart rate steady in the immediacy of a stressful situation. Those who are shy may find pets to be a good ice-breaker, an opportunity for social interaction.

Benefits for young & old

It also appears that an animal in the home is highly beneficial for immune system development in children. These factors have lasting benefits on our ability to fight off illness and remain healthy as we age.

For the elderly, animal companionship benefits social integration and boosts resilience in times of loneliness. Interestingly, older pet owners also maintain their independence to perform “activities of daily living” over non-owners such as, climbing stairs, bending/kneeling, prepare meals, taking medication, showering and dressing oneself.

Healer, ice-breaker and companion. It’s undeniable that animals benefit our physical and psychological well-being. With that in mind, go find your furry friend and give them a big cuddle, it’s a win-win situation.

If you’re are looking to buy pet insurance, call Choosi today on 13 55 55. We can help your pets get covered for the medical attention they’re sure to need down the track, and help you avoid financial drama when it happens. – See more at: Choosing the right pet insurance.


1. Animal Assisted Therapy and Activities in Alzheimer’s DiseaseUnderstanding Alzheimer’s Disease, Cevizci, S., Sen, H.M., Güneş, F., Karaahmet, E., 2013

Edited by Inga Zerr ISBN 978-953-51-1009-5, 494 pages, Publisher: InTech, Published February 27, 2013