Word on Health

Word On Pet Ownership For Our Well-Being

When thinking of ways to reduce stress in life, usually techniques like meditation, yoga and exercise come to mind. But getting a new best friend can also have many stress relieving and health benefits. The companionship offered by many pets is thought to be good for you for many reasons. 

Dr Deborah Wells, who features in our radio report (to listen again access the audio below), reviewed dozens of research papers which looked at the health benefits of pet ownership, and she confirmed that pet owners tended in general to be healthier than the average member of the population. However, her research suggested that dog ownership produced more positive influence than cat ownership. 


  • Evidence shows that dog owners tend to have lower blood pressure and cholesterol and that regular "walkies" may partly explain the difference.
  • It is possible that dogs can directly promote our well-being by buffering us from stress, one of the major risk factors associated with ill-health.
  • The ownership of a dog can also lead to increases in physical activity and facilitate the development of social contacts, which may enhance both physiological and psychological human health in a more indirect manner.
  • For older people, an animal can fulfil the 'need to be needed', perhaps after children have left home. In some cases, the social support offered by an animal is greater than the support another human could offer.


Research has also found how children who have pets as companions tend to take less days off from school.  University of Warwick researchers found four and five-year-olds whose families kept animals had attendance levels 18% higher than their peers without pets. This, researchers claim, is more to do with just owning a pet and taking care of it, and having it live in the same house as you.

Previous studies have shown children whose families kept pets were less likely to have asthma or allergies. the underlying theory is that the immune system develops in relation to what it is exposed to.


Listen to this weeks radio report

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