Health Benefits of Pets

Nothing makes a dog-lover feel better after a long day than their dog’s smiling face and wagging tail. And the unconditional love you may experience when your cat entwines itself affectionately around your legs can help lift your mood after a long day. Some pet owners may tell you how their beloved animals have helped influence their well-being.
Numerous studies indicate that companion animal ownership is associated with a range of physical, psychological and social health advantages. Examples of the health related benefits of pet ownership are:
Health benefit Benefits to owners Patients most affected
Physical health Cardiovascular health

  • Pets can help reduce stress and lower blood pressure (eg. patting a dog or watching fish swim peacefully in an aquarium)
  • Pet owners show improved recovery rates from heart surgery
Adults and the elderly, in particular those who are stressed, and/or have cardiovascular disease
Physical fitness (primarily for dog owners)

  • Dogs are great exercise partners and provide social support
  • Dog owners are more physically active (primarily though walking dog) and have reduced risk of obesity and better physical health
All ages, particularly those who are physically unfit or overweight
Immune system development

  • Exposure to pets lowers the likelihood of developing allergies
Psychological health Animal assisted therapy (AAT)

  • AAT with dogs and/or fish can increase morale, eating habits and overall health in Alzheimer patients
  • AAT increased attendance, decreased violent behaviour, and increased language and social skills in children with ADHD
  • In clinical settings, AAT reduces stress in children
People of all ages with various disorders
Mental health

  • Owners are less likely to experience loneliness and depression, as pets provide social support (with similar effects to human-human relationships), and provide a sense of purpose
  • Older people with pets are less stressed by major adverse life events than nonpet owners
Adults (particularly during times of stress or loss of a loved one), the elderly, socially isolated, chronically ill (physical or mental) or those with a terminal illness, and/or physical impairment
Child development

  • Pets may play a role in the social-emotional development of children,
    including self esteem, autonomy and empathy for others
  • Children who own pets show increased trust, community feeling, safety, self confidence and self enhancement
Children and adolescents
Social health Pets as social enablers

  • Pets are a good catalyst for meeting people (eg. neighbours, strangers)
  • Other social opportunities, including animal clubs and societies
  • Pet attachment is positively correlated with family cohesion and adaptability
  • Improves social interaction for the elderly and those with Alzheimer disease when used in visiting programs
People living alone and/or those having difficulty meeting

(Royal Australian College of General Practitioner


If you are considering owning a pet why not visit your local Rescue Shelter.
In the City of Armadale you can find


If you are unable to own a pet, why not consider volunteering your time to one of these fantastic agencies.
Pets make excellent companions, however, if you are really struggling to look after yourself then talk to your health care professional or doctor before you take on caring for a pet.