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What are the Health Benefits of Pets for Families?

So what are the health benefits of pets? Did you know that there are more family pets living in Australia than people and that two thirds of households have at least one pet?

There is nothing better than coming home and receiving an enthusiastic welcome from your four legged friend. Research has shown that owning a pet has benefits for both our physical and mental wellbeing. People with pets have lower blood pressure and cholesterol levels and pet owners report less depression and cope better with stress than non-pet owners.

Great for kids

Pets can be important in children lives as they provide companionship and help them to develop a sense of responsibility they carry through to adulthood. A study of children found those that grew up with pets were more empathetic and had higher self-esteem. Being around dogs during infancy has been shown to strengthen the immune system and may reduce the risk of allergies.

Great socialisers

Pets are also great conversation starters! Taking your dog for a walk almost always leads to a conversation or a hello from someone new. They can enhance our social connectedness and build friendships.

Great to keep family members active

Dogs in particular are great motivators to get moving and enjoying the outdoors. Keeping us moving and active can help us avoid many major health problems such as diabetes and heart disease. There may not be time to go for a long walk with but even a game of ball in the backyard with a dog is guaranteed to leave you both with a smile on your face.

Unconditional love

No one will love you more unconditionally than your pet. They never disagree with you and always accept you for exactly who you are. No matter what you’ve done or what has happened that day – a stressful day with the kids, a fight with your partner – they are there to give us attention and affection. Spending quality time even just snuggling up with a pet in front of the TV can make you feel wanted and needed.

Life long family friends

Finally, pets can bring us closer together. Families can spend quality time together caring for and playing with a pet as well as including them in social activities. Life in the modern family world is often hectic with work, school, and extracurricular activities. A well cared for and loved family pet can provide much needed stress relief, physical benefits, and family bonding time. There are so many health benefits of pets, you should find the right pet for your family today!

Dr Alex Hynes from Animal Emergency Service Brisbane is passionate about animals, their care and their treatment when sick or injured. Read more about her services here: www.dralexhynes.com.au

If you want to enjoy the health benefits of pets but don’t have room for a cat or dog, check out our guide to pocket pets for kids.

This article was published in Issue 15 of our print magazine, April/May 2016.

Photo of author

Janine Mergler

Janine Mergler is a veteran Queensland teacher, graduating from QUT with a BEd majoring in Social Sciences. After many years in the classroom, Janine moved on to academia. She has proudly trained new generations of teachers in her role as a lecturer at Queensland University of Technology Faculty of Education. She has also worked in the Queensland Government as an education specialist, developing education resources and delivering community awareness programs to help families conserve water. Currently she is the owner and editor of Families Magazine, a publication specifically targeted at parents who value a quality education for children.  Janine leads a team of professionals who write about family lifestyle, early childhood, schools and education information and family-friendly events.

1 thought on “What are the Health Benefits of Pets for Families?”

  1. Pets are amazing aren’t they. Having a dog always makes you get out of bed in the morning to get some exercise so helping your health. Pets are amazing too that even though they can’t talk to you (apart from awooing) they become part of the family and over that


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