Pets, whether furry, feathered, or scaled are not just cute companions. They offer a wide range of health benefits that are supported by scientific research. In this article, we will explore the reasons why pets are good for your health.

  1. Reduce stress and anxiety: Having a pet around can have a calming effect on your mind and body. It has been shown that interacting with pets can reduce the production of stress hormones such as cortisol and increase the release of feel-good hormones such as oxytocin (1). This effect is particularly useful for people with anxiety or post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD).
  2. Lower blood pressure: High blood pressure is a common risk factor for heart disease and stroke. Studies have shown that owning a pet, especially a dog, can help lower blood pressure. Studies have found that interactions with pets, particularly dogs, led to lower blood pressure and heart rate reactivity during stress tasks (2). Taking a dog for a walk can provide moderate exercise, which is also beneficial for cardiovascular health.
  3. Improve mental health: Pets can help improve mental health by providing companionship, reducing loneliness, and improving mood. Studies have shown that pet owners have lower levels of depression and anxiety than non-pet owners (3). Pets also provide a sense of purpose and responsibility, which can be particularly helpful for people with depression (3).
  4. Increase physical activity: Dogs, in particular, require regular exercise, which means that dog owners tend to be more physically active than non-dog owners. Studies have found that dog owners were more likely to meet recommended levels of physical activity than non-dog owners (4). Regular physical activity can help reduce the risk of obesity, diabetes, and other chronic diseases.
  5. Boost the immune system: Studies have found that early exposure to pets, especially dogs and cats, can reduce the risk of developing allergies and asthma later in life (5). Pets can boost the immune system by exposing children to a wider range of bacteria and other microorganisms, which can help train the immune system to recognize and tolerate harmless substances (6).
  6. Provide social support: Pets can provide social support, especially for people who are isolated or have limited social networks (7).  Pet owners tend to have larger social networks and are more likely to engage in social activities than non-pet owners (7). This social support can be particularly helpful for older adults who may be at risk of social isolation.

In conclusion, pets are good for your health in many ways. They can reduce stress and anxiety, lower blood pressure, improve mental health, increase physical activity, boost the immune system, and provide social support. If you are considering getting a pet, make sure you have the time, resources, and commitment to provide for their needs. Pets require attention, exercise, and care, but the benefits they provide are well worth the effort.


For more information on exercise (which can be beneficial when paired with pet ownership and exercise with your pet) and general health information, please check out;

Do Dogs Like to Be Hugged?



  1. Beetz, A., Uvnäs-Moberg, K., Julius, H., & Kotrschal, K. (2012). Psychosocial and Psychophysiological Effects of Human-Animal Interactions: The Possible Role of Oxytocin. Frontiers in Psychology, 3, 234. doi: 10.3389/fpsyg.2012.00234
  1. Allen, K., Blascovich, J., & Mendes, W. B. (2002). Cardiovascular reactivity and the presence of pets, friends, and spouses: the truth about cats and dogs. Psychosomatic Medicine, 64(5), 727-739. doi: 10.1097/01.PSY.0000024236.11538.41.
  1. Brooks, H. L., Rushton, K., Lovell, K., Bee, P., Walker, L., Grant, L., & Rogers, A. (2018). The power of support from companion animals for people living with mental health problems: a systematic review and narrative synthesis of the evidence. BMC Psychiatry, 18(1), 31. doi: 10.1186/s12888-018-1613-2
  2. Christian, H., Bauman, A., Epping, J. N., Levine, G. N., McCormack, G., Rhodes, R. E., Richards, E., & Rock, M. (2019). Encouraging dog walking for health promotion and disease prevention. American Journal of Lifestyle Medicine, 13(2), 178-187. doi: 10.1177/1559827618779160
  3. Havstad S, Johnson CC, Zoratti EM, et al. Pet keeping and urban asthma. Environ Health Perspect. 2011;119(10):1419-1423. doi:10.1289/ehp.1003086
  1. Ownby DR, Johnson CC, Peterson EL. Exposure to dogs and cats in the first year of life and risk of allergic sensitization at 6 to 7 years of age. JAMA. 2002;288(8):963-972.
  1. Wood, L., Martin, K., Christian, H., Nathan, A., Lauritsen, C., Houghton, S., Kawachi, I., & McCune, S. (2015). The pet factor – companion animals as a conduit for getting to know people, friendship formation and social support. PLoS ONE, 10(4), e0122085. doi: 10.1371/journal.pone.0122085
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Nine-part guide covering all aspects of pet care


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