4 reasons why a pet is good for your wellbeing

Life can be full of ups and downs for everyone, and unfortunately the challenges of today mean Australians are reporting lower levels of wellbeing and higher levels of stress, according to research from the Australian Psychological Society.

The good news is that the majority of us are seeking help to manage stress and to achieve greater overall wellbeing, such as by spending more time with family and friends and even seeking out specific wellbeing programs.

Pets are another great way to improve your wellbeing. After all, the Real Pets Survey found that the vast majority of pet owners in Australia have experienced improved happiness (98%), better mental health (96%) and less everyday stress (75%) thanks to their pets. Here are four more reasons why a pet is good for your wellbeing.

1. Pets keep us active and get us out of the house

Not only do pets keep us healthier – such as by lowering our stress levels and even reducing our blood pressure – but they help us get out and about for a more active lifestyle. Dog owners, for example, spend more than 20 minutes outside walking every day and clock up 2,760 additional steps than the average non-pet owner, according to a recent study.

And that’s just daily walks. Think about all the other ways we entertain pets, such as chasing them around the house and backyard, playing fetch and taking them out to dog parks and pet play dates. Higher activity levels and more socialisation means better wellbeing for human owners as well.

2. Pets love humans unconditionally

It’s official: cats and dogs have the capacity to truly love humans. And it goes without saying that owners absolutely can and do love their furry best friends.

According to a 2017 study, the love we experience with pets can lead to higher levels of oxytocin, which is a chemical produced in our brains in response to kindness or other pleasant interactions. Bonding with pets has also been shown to help relieve depression due to the feeling of being unconditionally loved and accepted.

3. Pets can improve both our mental and physical health

Yes, our pets keep us active and help us release the feel-good hormones, which generally improves our short-term wellbeing, but they are also great for helping us become more balanced over the long term.

We already know that pets can reduce our stress levels, but they also require routine and organisation, which can give humans a sense of purpose and ongoing motivation. Pets also fulfil our very natural desire to ‘touch’ – with physical contact by patting an animal being linked to a lowered heart rate.

In scientific terms, this is great news for our overall wellness. According to a study into the chemical reactions between dog owners and their pets, it was found that just a few minutes spent patting our animals releases a range of the ‘feel-good’ hormones in us, such as serotonin, prolactin and oxytocin.

4. Pets become members of our family

And then there’s the companionship element. Pets can be loyal, affectionate, unabashedly loving and just good, honest creatures who want to please humans. So it’s no wonder the vast majority of pet owners (87.1%) say “pets are just as integral to the family unit as our partners and children”, according to the Real Pets Survey.

As a member of the family, you want to make sure they are loved, protected and cared for, which is why pet insurance can put your mind at ease and help protect you against unexpected – and expensive – vet bills in the event they become injured or ill.

It’s a big decision to bring a pet into your life, but the benefits are endless. From better physical health to less feelings of loneliness – and of course greater personal wellness – a pet brings joy, love and happiness into our lives.

Pets contribute so much to our overall wellbeing, and one way to help give the love back is by considering taking out pet insurance to protect your pet in the event of illness or injury. You can find out more about getting a policy for your furry friend by calling Real Insurance on 1300 665 965. Check out Real Pet Insurance for a full list of covered events and features or get a quick quote right now.