man with dog in park - a benefit of having a dog is the exercise they give you

The Many Physical Benefits of Having a Dog or Cat


Recent Blog:

Facebook Posts

Our pets are the epitome of unconditional love. And any pet parent will attest to the fact that this comes with some mental wellbeing benefits. There’s nothing quite like dog or cat snuggles at the end of a stressful day. But did you know there are also physical benefits of having a dog or cat? And probably a bird, guinea pig, or other pet too.  

And we’re not talking about made-up or wishy-washy benefits. In fact, having a dog or cat could be saving you some serious cash. Research shows that pets save Australians $3.86 billion in health bills each year.

Your physical benefits for having a dog, cat, or other

We love our pets, and there’s no denying that they bring a lot of happiness and enjoyment to our lives. But recently, research and science has started to explore the physical benefits of having a dog, cat or other pet. Although to be honest, most research focuses on dogs and cats as they’re the most common pets.

And what has science found? Well, pet parents might not be surprised, but research shows some of the benefits of having a dog or cat include:

  1. Decreasing cholesterol levels
  2. Lowering blood pressure
  3. Lower cortisol levels
  4. Reduced trigylceriides
  5. Increased levels of oxytocin
  6. Improved fitness (especially if you have a Border Collie or similar!)
  7. Social benefits

And if your partner is trying to kick your dog off the bed at night, just remind them that sleeping with your dog in your bed is actually great for your health. Can’t argue with the facts!

How having a dog or cat brings you physical benefits

So you probably wouldn’t argue that there are physical benefits to having a dog or cat. But how exactly do they happen?

Let’s look into the biological responses to furkids, which are what bring you all those benefits.

How pets contribute to good heart health

Patting our companion animals, interacting with them, and generally being around them has a host of heart-health benefits. Firstly, evidence suggests that pet owners have lower triglyceride levels. When triglycerides are too high, the risk of heart disease and heart attack increases.

Researchers think that pet owners’ lower triglycerides levels are linked to reduced stress and an improved mental state. Which is the same reason why another of the physical benefits of having a dog or cat is reduced blood pressure. Pets help to alleviate stress and anxiety.

They also help to regulate our moods, which in turn helps to regulate our heart rates. You’ll know if you’re calm and content, your heart won’t be racing the same way it would if you were angry or stressed. And a well-regulated heart rate tends to have a positive influence on blood pressure. So cuddle that cat or dog next time you feel your pulse racing!

But it doesn’t end there. Plenty of research has shown that pet owners have lower cholesterol levels too.

In fact, a study in Psychology Today once proclaimed that owning a cat can lower your cholesterol as much as medication can. Not that we’re suggesting anyone try substituting their medicine for a cat. But having a cat as well as a well-informed doctor certainly won’t do any harm.  

having a cat lying on you like this can have the benefit of improving heart health

How having a dog can release happy hormones

Happy hormones are another of the physical benefits of having a dog or cat to cuddle and interact with. It might sound like more of a mental wellbeing benefit, but our hormones are responsible for more than just moods.

Cortisol is a hormone our bodies produce in response to stress. When these levels are high, you might suffer from problems such as insomnia, weight gain, muscle weaknesses, and even acne. Interacting with pets can lower cortisol levels. And in turn, it means you have less chance of developing the problems mentioned above.

Then there’s oxytocin. It’s sometimes called the “love hormone” because we produce it when we’re happy. Luckily, we loooove our dogs and cats (and birds and guinea pigs and iguanas) just as much as other humans. Right?

Science agrees; it’s found bonding with animals causes a rush of oxytocin. So time with your pet = happiness. Like we needed research to tell us that?

Having a dog or cat can improve fitness

If there’s one thing all pet owners agree on, it’s that having a pet comes with a ton of responsibilities. From getting up early to feed and let them out, to playing with them, and taking them for walks or daily exercise. Not that we’d have it any other way.

Cats usually require a bit less in the way of human-accompanied exercise – though you can train your cat to walk on a lead if you’d like to. But dogs are another story.

One of the big physical benefits of having a dog is the need to play, walk, or exercise them in some way. A daily run, walk, or swim is good for both of you and can help us humans to lead an active, healthy life. Even if you don’t love exercise yourself, you do it for the good of Fido.

Another of the benefits of having a dog or cat is socialisation. Ever noticed pet owners gravitate towards other pet owners? Whether it’s through dropping your cat off at the cattery, getting involved with an online community dedicated to your pet’s breed, or walking your dog at the park, you’re more likely to meet likeminded pet owners if you have your own one.

Socialisation can make us happier, which has a positive impact on our immune systems.

woman sitting with white dog on back of car

The benefits of having pet insurance

Now you know how important your pets are, not only to your emotional wellbeing but your physical wellbeing too, you want to protect them even more, right?

Luckily, pet insurance can help. With cover for accidents and vet bills, you’ll be looking out for your pet’s health and wellbeing the same way they do for you.  

Share On:

How would you, like to proceed?

How would you, like to proceed?