7 Physical Benefits of Owning a Pet

Owning and having a pet has many physical benefits, from lowering stroke risk and blood pressure to pets even improving mental health!

The physical health benefits of owning a pet are plentiful – likely more than you realise! Pets love us unconditionally, which is great for our mental health, but studies show they can help lower blood pressure and improve fitness too. And that’s not all…

While some benefits are better known, like guide dogs and Assistance Dogs servicing mobility needs, other benefits aren’t as well known. In this article, we look at a number of these.

Read all about the top seven physical benefits of owning a pet here.

What are the physical benefits of owning a pet?

At a purely emotional level, the benefits of pet ownership have long been sensed but not particularly well explained. In recent years, however, science began to focus more keenly on what these benefits are and how far they extend across human wellbeing.

This exploration has led to examining these benefits at a biological level. Here are some of the physical benefits of owning a pet that science uncovers:

  1. Decrease cholesterol
  2. Lower blood pressure
  3. Reduce triglycerides
  4. Lower cortisol
  5. Increase oxytocin
  6. Improve fitness
  7. Improve socialisation
Owning and having a pet has many physical benefits, from lowering stroke risk and blood pressure to pets even improving mental health!

How do the physical benefits of owning a pet work?

Now, let’s look at the biological factors that contribute to these benefits…

1. Do pets lower cholesterol?

Yes. Studies on a large group of dog owners vs non dog owners found that, in general, dog owners had lower cholesterol. Patting our companion animals, talking to them and simply knowing they’re there all help to improve our well-being and lower cholesterol levels.

In fact, according to one study, owning a cat can lower your cholesterol just as effectively as medication. Note we certainly wouldn’t recommend stopping your meds but combining them with a pet would be a great way forward.

2. Do pets lower blood pressure?

Yes! Pets help to keep us calm, particularly in times of stress. Studies show that pets keep us more ‘present’ and reduce our levels of anxiety, which can reduce the risk of heart disease. By regulating our mood pets also help regulate our heart rate and that can have a positive influence on blood pressure.

3. Do pets lower triglycerides?

Indeed they do. Triglycerides (and cholesterol) are both lipids that circulate in the blood and perform different functions. In healthy amounts, triglycerides store calories and release energy, whereas cholesterol helps build cells and some of our hormones.

In not-so-healthy amounts, triglycerides can harden arteries and increase the risk of heart disease, heart attack, and stroke, or cause inflammation of the pancreas. Evidence shows pet owners have lower triglycerides, which researchers think is linked to an improved emotional state, reduced mental stress and fewer biological stress reactions.

Learn about the benefits of having a heart health check.

Owning and having a pet has many physical benefits, from lowering stroke risk and blood pressure to pets even improving mental health!

4. Do pets lower cortisol levels?

Yes, lowered cortisol levels is another of the many physical benefits of owning a pet. Cortisol is a hormone we produce when we’re stressed. Increased cortisol can cause weight gain, insomnia, acne, muscle weakness and more. Interacting with pets has been found to lower cortisol levels and therefore reduce the chance of these issues.

Now you know about the stress and cortisol reducing physical benefits of owning a pet, read about other ways to reduce anxiety.

5. Do cats and dogs improve oxytocin levels?

Indeed they do! Oxytocin is a hormone we produce when we’re happy – often called the love hormone. Bonding with our assistance and companion animals causes a release of oxytocin. So, the more time spent with your pet, the happier you’ll likely be.

6. Do pets improve our fitness?

Yes, pet can improve our fitness. Owning a pet comes with many responsibilities. From waking up in the morning to feed them to letting them out to do their toileting and taking them for a regular stroll. Dogs are especially known for getting us up on time – read how sleeping with your dog in bed can be good for you. These daily routines help to keep us active, healthy, and fit.

7. Do pets improve our socialisation?

Absolutely! Improved socialisation is another of the physical benefits of owning a pet because it can have a great impact on our happiness. This helps boost our immune systems and keep us strong. Not only are pets more likely to get us out of home for a visit to the park or even just down the road, but once we’re out they’re also a source of inspiration for conversations with other pet owners.

More physical and health benefits of owning a pet

Now you’re on this path, listed below are some other pet-related blog posts you might enjoy:

  1. 3 Big Benefits of Having a Dog or Cat
  2. Low Maintenance Pets for People with Limited Mobility
  3. How do Pets Improve Mental Health?
  4. The Pros and Cons of Getting a Pet This Christmas
  5. Assistance Dogs and Autism: How Can a Dog Help?
  6. What is an Assistance Dog and How Do They Support Disability?
  7. Assistance Dogs VS Emotional Support Dogs and Therapy Dogs
Owning and having a pet has many physical benefits, from lowering stroke risk and blood pressure to pets even improving mental health!

Besides the physical benefits of owning a pet, what should you consider?

Did you know Australia has one of the highest pet ownership rates in the world, with 28.7 million pets? Not only do pets offer physical benefits for all of us lucky pet parents but they can also improve our mental health wellness.

Did you know you also need to consider your pet’s mental wellness? Here’s more on considerations for choosing a pet, therapy or assistance animal:

  • Pets have mental health needs too

If you’re getting a pet, you need to know pets can experience separation anxiety and obsessive-compulsive disorder as well as a range of other mental health issues. One of the most common reasons for this is choosing the wrong pet for your lifestyle or living environment.

  • Matching your pet and lifestyle

There are a few important things to keep in mind to ensure the experience is joyful and manageable. First, think about the type of pet that suits your lifestyle and needs best. Whether it’s a dog, cat, or another furry pal, each comes with unique qualities.

  • Matching your pet and your resources

Make sure you have enough support and resources to provide proper care and attention to your pet. Also, consider the physical requirements of taking care of them, such as feeding, grooming and exercise. Don’t hesitate to reach out to local animal shelters or pet organisations for assistance and guidance.

If you’d like to experience the benefits of owning a pet, but can’t have one full time, consider becoming an Assistance Dog puppy volunteer.

It's important to get the fit right the first time, just like your WAV, converted car, wheelchair, and/or mobility scooter. 
Pet insurance for Assistance Dogs protects this pup as they take care of their human

Protect your pet the same way they protect you

Hopefully the above has given you plenty of useful information on the value pets provide their owners. While you’re thinking about that, think about the value you can provide your pet by covering their health needs.

With up to 15% off pet insurance, you can give your therapy or companion animal wonderful benefits with Blue Badge Insurance. A pet plan helps cover costly medical procedures like surgery, medication, hospital stays and all kinds of other unexpected vet visits.

Did you know that, along with our cost-effective wheelchair, scooter, WAV and disability car insurance, Blue Badge Insurance offers up to 25% off Assistance Dogs insurance too? Protect them the same way they protect you and enjoy the benefits of a pet insurance plan. Start by getting a quote – just click below.

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