The Positive Power of Pets
Pet ownership is linked to both physical and psychological benefits – which combine to improve overall health and wellbeing. Reassuringly, pets do not replace family and friends as a source of social support – in fact they complement the way we bond with other people.
According to recent research, Australia and New Zealand have two of the highest rates of pet ownership in the world, with companion animals far outnumbering the countries’ human population by a ratio of three to one.
Research has shown that our love of pets is well founded as they can enhance our quality of life. Pet ownership (particularly dog ownership) has been linked to:
- more exercise, which is important for people with osteoarthritis to maintain an active and healthy lifestyle
- lowered blood pressure
- better handling of stress
Pets can also provide owners with an important source of social support and, consequently, a greater sense of belonging.
While the benefits of pet ownership are numerous, you should never rush into getting a pet. Owning a pet is a long-term commitment (cats can live well into their 20s) and it requires space, time, resources, energy, patience and love. But if you’re prepared to make the effort, pet ownership can be a rewarding experience for you and your family.