10 Health Benefits of Owning a Pet: What Science Says

1.They Strengthen Our Immune System

Our animals bring us a lot of pleasure and joy daily, but it turns out that they are also powerful allies for our health.

According to several scientific studies, pet owners suffer from fewer health problems than those who do not have pets at home. Less high blood pressure, less cholesterol, and fewer cardiovascular problems are just a few of the surprising benefits of having a pet. Indeed, according to the Center for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), some of the health benefits of having a pet include:


    Decreased blood pressure


    Decreased cholesterol levels


    Decreased triglyceride levels

In addition, pets also have recognized anti-stress virtues, which help strengthen the immune system of people suffering from stress and anxiety.

2.They Protect Children from Getting Sick

Living with a dog that spends at least part of its day outdoors could boost a child’s immune system in the first year of life. Cats also seem to provide this protection, although the observed effect was weaker. Children living with pets would therefore use antibiotics less often than other children.

Likewise, infants living with companion dogs would be less prone to respiratory infections, and their risk of allergies could be reduced by 33%.

3.They Promote the Psychological Development of Kids

Animals not only affect the health of children, but they also play a significant role in their psychomotor and emotional development.

Owning a pet helps toddlers develop compassion and a sense of responsibility. Taking care of an animal, feeding it, walking it, petting it, and giving it affection allows children to increase their self-confidence. The animal can be its confidant, playmate, and protector at the same time. Plus, having a pet helps soothe and calm the little ones. Owning a pet, therefore, has a stabilizing effect on their psychological development.

4.They Watch Over Our Heart

In general, petting a cat, dog, or any other furry animal gives us a feeling of well-being and immediately calms us; breathing slows down, blood pressure drops, and heart rate drops, which significantly reduces the risk of developing a disease.

Note, however, that conversely, a poorly educated animal with behavioral disorders will have the opposite effect and increase the risk of having a heart attack.

5.They Create Social Ties

Having a dog would increase the chances of forming new bonds with your neighbors and fostering potential romantic encounters. As a bonus: people in a couple are less prone to illnesses than singles, making your pooch a real asset for staying healthy.

Children with pets also benefit from the social aspect that their animal brings to them: they would indeed bond more easily with other children or adults. The animal helps the child to socialize, hence their positive influence on autistic children.

6.They Help Keep Us Fit

Dog owners walk an average of 30 minutes more per week than people who don’t. So walking your dog 20 minutes a day, five days a week, could help you lose 6 pounds in a year.

Also, it appears, although not yet proven, that cat owners would exercise more than others. The main reason? The cat, by its behavior, would communicate its energy to us and give us more motivation to exercise!

Having a pet could also be beneficial for people with eating disorders.

7.They Help Teens Get Through Tough Times

Teenage years are never an easy time. Many parents are helpless in front of their teenagers, who sometimes have incomprehensible or withdrawn behavior. The pet is recognized as a structuring element of the personality of young people. If the teen does not wish to confide in an adult, he will always find a comforting “ear” in his pet.

Additionally, one study found that teens with pets exercise more than others.

8.They Soothe Us

Interactions with our beloved companion reduce levels of the stress hormone cortisol.

For example, cat owners believe that cat purring can be more effective than medication. This calming effect can be explained scientifically: the over-the-air frequency of purring is said to have a calming effect, much like music, which gave rise to music therapy. It is, therefore, natural that purring therapy was born, thanks to a veterinarian, Jean-Yves Gauchet.

Likewise, looking at an aquarium has an immediate calming effect, hence their presence in public places and especially in hospitals.

9.They Help Fight Depression

A pet is an undeniable psychological support. It prevents isolation and withdrawal: an animal that sees its owner depressed will come and pick it up with a toy and still ask for its daily release.

Being responsible for a living being can be extremely rewarding for the individual suffering from depression; indeed, thinking that “if I’m not there, who will take care of my animal” can help find more meaning in life during darker times.

In addition, it was noted that the level of anxiety and depression was lower in people over 65 years of age with pets.

10.They Extend Our Life Expectancy and Help Us Heal

Animals help the sick to heal and the elderly to feel better.

Their presence is thus more, and more sought after in retirement homes or specialized centers (Alzheimer’s, autism, etc.) and gives rise to the emergence of a new discipline: zootherapy.

Zootherapy consists of using the “proximity of a domestic or pet animal, with a human suffering from mental, physical or social disorders, to reduce stress or the consequences of medical treatment.” It has existed for many years in Canada but is only beginning to gain recognition in the United States.