Will having a pet bring your family closer together?

There’s no denying Australia is a nation of pet lovers. In fact, according to the Real Love of Pets study , nearly nine in ten Australian families consider their pets as part of the family, just as much as their partner or children! It’s clear that Aussies really love their furry four-legged friends!

The study also showed that we spend $119 million annually on birthday presents for our pets and pet owners take an average of ten pet pictures each month, saving around 118 happy snaps on our phones. Across the country, the total number of pet photos saved on phones adds up to 700 million and we’re taking approximately 722 million pictures per year! But cute images aside, does having a pet actually bring a family closer together?

Benefits of owning a pet

There are endless benefits that pet ownership can bring. Pets bring us love, they provide us with companionship, they help keep us to a routine and add additional exercise to our days. During isolation and restrictions for the pandemic, many people reported that they enjoyed spending more time with their pets while at home.

It seems that the experts agree that the three most important benefits of owning a pet are:

  • Love and companionship: not all families are the same and a furry companion can provide love and solace if a partner works night shifts or is regularly away from home. If you're interested in getting a pet, why not have a look at the most popular breed of dog and cat in your area, with Real Insurance's Pets By Place report.
  • Pets reduce stress: did you know that patting a dog can almost instantly calm you down and reduce stress? A recent study proved this, stating that owner-dog interactions actually increase oxytocin production (the love hormone) and decrease cortisol levels (the stress hormone) in the owner.
  • Pets make us more social: sometimes it may seem pets have a better social life than their owners. Anyone who takes their dog for a walk often has to stop at least once to chat to someone about their pupper as dogs are great conversation starters!

Having a pet teaches children many skills

When you bring a pet into the home, you can teach your children the following:

  • Responsibility: caring for a pet means being responsible for another living creature. A parent can encourage a child to take on decision making responsibilities as well. For example, if it looks like it might rain, you can ask the children to make the decision if we should still take the dog for a walk?
  • Co-operation: parents may choose to assign different pet caring responsibilities to each child. One child feeds the pet, while another ensures they have fresh water. They may also have to clean up after the pet, bathe or walk the pet. This (hopefully) means increased co-ordination and co-operation.
  • Exercise is fun: mostly for dogs, but there are some cats who like to go for a walk. The pet and the family member are getting some fresh air and exercise. As well as improved mental health, pets (specifically dogs) can improve your fitness levels.

But wait there’s more (physical benefits to owning a pooch)

Research has shown growing up with a dog from infancy may help strengthen a child’s immune system, reducing the risk of allergies. A Swedish study showed that children showed fewer allergic manifestations of conditions like as asthma and eczema if household cats and dogs were exposed to babies during their first year of life. This could mean that children who own a pet might end up missing fewer days of school due to illness. Kids who have a pet at home, may also have increased psychological benefits.

  • School aged kids with pets tend to show more empathy
  • Children and teens with pets have greater self esteem
  • Pets enhance social skills
  • Caring for a pet increases feelings of companionship, which can reduce stress

So, it’s safe to say a family can become closer when they add a furry family member, and there are benefits for both adults and their children.

Doing what’s best for your family’s wellbeing, such as adopting a rescue dog or even fostering a dog until they find their forever home, are all wonderful things you can do to make your home a happy, stress free place to live.

Is your new pet covered?

Taking out Real Pet Insurance is one simple thing you can do right now to help protect your pet. You can give your dog or cat the loving care they deserve without worrying, because Real Pet Insurance covers up to 80% of eligible vet bills, and you can claim up to a maximum of $12,000 per year (exclusions, limits and sub-limits may apply. A $2,000 annual condition limit applies to Classic Accident & Illness Cover).