Why pets make us happy

September 16, 2014
Jay Stewart

They shed hair on the carpet, need to be fed and watered, and hog the bed. But pets offer a whole lot of love, and chances are you’re much happier for having a furry friend in your life.


There are over 33 million pets in Australia compared to just 22 million humans - that puts us among the great pet lovers of the world, and dogs are the top choice. Almost two out of five of us own a mutt of some sort. One in three lives with a moggie. But for sheer numbers it’s hard to go past fish. Almost 11 million little finned critters are bobbing around in home aquariums .


Enjoy a new leash on life


The thing is, it doesn’t matter whether the light of your life is a Rover, Fluffy or Nemo. The rewards of pet ownership go way beyond a wag of the tail or the wave of a fin.


Your dog is a great workout buddy


Next time your dog hounds you for a walk, pick up the lead - he probably has your health in mind. In a survey of more than 5,200 adults by the American Heart Association (AHA) , people with dogs were found to spend more time engaged in physical activity than non-dog owners, and were 54 per cent more likely to get the recommended level of daily physical activity.


In addition, the AHA found owning pets can be associated with lower blood pressure plus lower incidence of obesity. Pets were also shown to have a positive effect on the body’s reactions to stress.


More than puppy love


Pets adore us for who we are, and that makes us feel good about ourselves. Pet owners have higher levels of self-esteem and a greater sense of belonging than those who don’t share their life with a special critter . In fact, 56% of women and 41% of men say their pet is more affectionate than their partner . Let’s hope they’re not the fish owners.


Pets brighten our moods


But the real happiness clincher is taking time out to pat your pet. Patting a dog for just 15 minutes releases the feel-good hormone serotonin and the ‘hug hormone’ oxytocin according to a study by the University of Missouri . If you’re more into cats, rest assured, plenty of other research has shown that playing with your kitty delivers a valuable boost to happiness.


So next time you’re pooper scooping the garden or cleaning the litter tray, bear in mind pets are friends with benefits – they make us healthier, happier and our world is better place when it’s shared with a pet.


What do you think - does your pet make you feel happy? Share my blog on Facebook and Twitter and let others join the conversation.

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