How pets can boost your health

Pets often seem to have a special effect on their owners. They can make you laugh and smile, but did you know they could also boost your health?

As a nation of animal lovers, the theory that pets can boost your health can only be good news for us Brits.

In the UK almost half of households own a pet opens in a new window, with over 55 million pets living here – excluding fish.

Dogs make up almost a quarter of the pets we own, while cats account for 18% of the pet population.

Health benefits of a pet

According to Australian researchers opens in a new window, living with a pet can have real benefits for your health.

In a study of almost 6,000 people, they found:

  • pet owners had significantly lower blood pressure
  • cholesterol levels were reduced in pet owners
  • pet owners ate less unhealthy take-away food

And if you own a dog, there’s also the added benefit of the exercise you’ll get. Dogs need regular walks, so getting your daily exercise with your canine friend is as good for you as it is for them.

Getting out to the dog park is a chance not only to stretch your legs but socialise with other dog owners. For people who live alone that can be an essential part of their day.

Pets can make you happy too

There’s also the psychological side to owning a pet.

A 2002 study by the British Market Research Bureau opens in a new window showed people feel better when they own a pet:

  • 75% said their pets made them laugh and thereby contributed to better mental health
  • 67% said their pets offered unconditional love
  • 66% said their pets provided companionship and alleviated loneliness
  • 64% said their pets reduced stress and made them feel more relaxed
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