Skip to main content

10 Surprising Health Benefits of Owning a Pet

Margaret Minnicks has been an online writer for many years. She writes articles that are interesting to her readers.

Man with his dog

Man with his dog

Studies have proven that owning a pet has surprising health benefits. Psychologists have listed at least ten health benefits of being around pets, even if you don't own one yourself. Let's see what those health benefits are. They might make you appreciate the pet you have. They might make you get a pet if you don't already have one.

1. Pets Keep You Moving

Pets will force their owners to exercise, whether they enjoy exercising or not. Pets will keep their owners moving, especially if the pet is a dog. They will have to walk their dogs every day. Some doctors advise their overweight patients to get a dog just so they will have a good reason to walk and run around with the dog.

Taking care of a dog will motivate an obese person to get at least 10 minutes of exercise twice a day. Cats can also get a person moving because they love to play. However, dog owners are forced to exercise more than any other pet.

According to the World Atlas, dogs are ranked as the most popular pet in the United States with over 48 million households owning any kind of dog. Cats are ranked as the second most popular pet in the United States with nearly 32 million households owning one.


2. Pets Help With Interpersonal Relationships

Pets help people socialize with others, especially if they are walking their dogs down the street or in the park at the same time. Asking questions about each other's dogs is a good ice breaker. Some of the shortest conversations could lead to building long relationships because of pets.

3. Pets Help Eliminate Stress

Pets are known to help those who suffer from stress, anxiety, depression, PTSD, and other mental illnesses. Doctors have seen many of their patients show improvement if they have a pet.

People who own pets are usually in better moods than people who don't own one. Just by petting an animal shows a decreased production of cortisol, the stress hormone, and an increased level of oxytocin, the “feel-good” hormone.

In some cases, owning a pet can keep some people off of some medications and the psychiatrist's couch.

4. Pets Aid in Lowing the Risk of Heart Disease

It is amazing that owning a pet can lower a person’s risk of heart disease, according to the American Heart Association. Pets are also associated with lower cholesterol levels which helps decrease the likelihood of heart disease.

Having a lower risk of heart disease could be one of the reasons pets owners are known to live longer than people who do not own a pet.

5. Pets Help Lower Risk of Stroke

Researchers have revealed that owning a cat cuts a person’s risk of having a stroke by more than a third. Experts are convinced that people who own a pet and touch it frequently have a lower risk of a stroke.

6. Pets Help Increase Bone Density

One wouldn't think that a pet could have anything to do with bone density. When cats purr, they produce vibrations with a wavelength high enough to have several health benefits.

The purrs can help a person breathe easier and even increase a person’s bone density. A cat's purr can also speed up the healing process of a wound.

Blood Pressure Being Taken

Blood Pressure Being Taken

7. Pets Help Lower Blood Pressure

A pet can help people keep a person's blood pressure at healthy levels. Research has shown that pets definitely lower blood pressure, especially when a person is stressed. A study proved that dogs decreased patients’ blood pressure by about 10 percent.

Scroll to Continue

8. Pets Help Eliminate Pain

People often get relief from chronic pain when they are around pets. Besides, petting an animal helps people relax. Relaxation can help a person get some relief from chronic pain as muscles stop pulling on sore joints. Then the person is able to relax enough to get some sleep.

9. Pets Detect Diseases in Owners

Many studies and research have proven how helpful dogs can be when their owners are dealing with an illness such as cancer or diabetes. According to the Cancer Treatment Centers of America, dogs have detected diseases in owners before the owners became aware of it. Dogs have been known to detect breast cancer with 88 percent accuracy. They can also sniff out skin cancer, bladder cancer and diabetes.

Also, dogs have been known to help patients during recovery. Just having the pet around can brighten a sick person's day.

10. Pet Owners Have Fewer Allergies

Over the years, people believed that exposing their children to pets would cause them to be allergic to pets because of dander and fur. The opposite has proven to be true. It has been proven that infants and small children who are around a dog or cat might not develop pet allergies.

Therefore, there is no reason to get rid of your dog or cat if there is a baby in the house.


The Scientific American Mind magazine stands by its findings that there are health benefits to owning a pet no matter what the pet is.

There are plenty of pets available for people to own or to rent. The pet you choose depends on your personal likes.

Even though there are many health benefits that come with owning a pet, that does not mean you should stop seeing your physician or giving up your medications. Additionally, you should be serious about bringing a pet into your household if you are not physically and financially able to take care of one. If so, you will be doing a disservice to yourself and to the pet.


8 Health Benefits of Having a Pet

6 Health Benefits of Owning a Pet

This content is for informational purposes only and does not substitute for formal and individualized diagnosis, prognosis, treatment, prescription, and/or dietary advice from a licensed medical professional. Do not stop or alter your current course of treatment. If pregnant or nursing, consult with a qualified provider on an individual basis. Seek immediate help if you are experiencing a medical emergency.


Margaret Minnicks (author) from Richmond, VA on February 10, 2021:

Cheryl, believe it or not, I have never owned a pet. I grew up in the country where everybody's dogs came around for food. I could use the health benefits, but owning a pet would take my attention off of writing. In other words, I just don't have time for a dog or any other pet.

Cheryl E Preston from Roanoke on February 10, 2021:

I miss owning pets. I used to have lots of cats and a few dogs at one time.

Related Articles