A round of appaws: Pet owners healthier than those without animals

Animal lovers have likely experienced the psychological benefits of snuggling up with their furry friends, but pet ownership might also be relieving the strain on Australia's public health system.

A dog cuddle a day keeps the doctor away: That’s the happy result of a new research study from MARS Petcare, which has revealed that not only are pet owners less likely to need to visit a GP but are also saving the collective public health system around $700 a year.

In time for National Pet Week, the figures suggest that owning a pet prevents an estimated 2.8 million GP visits a year, with pet owners visiting their doctor 11 percent less frequently than non-pet owners. So why are pet owners spending less time in doctors' waiting rooms?

The findings indicate that pet-ownership has a positive knock-on effect on our health, with people with pets exercising more often and therefore sleeping better and feeling fitter. The great companionship our beloved pets provide also benefits our mental health, meaning pet owners often feel healthier than others.

This greater sense of well-being reportedly results in fewer doctor and hospital visits, a reduced number of sick days from work and less use of medication.

And while this is fantastic news for animal lovers looking for a reason to adopt a new furry child, the results suggest that pet ownership could even benefit the Australian Government, with an estimated $1.25 billion in savings for the public health system each year.

MARS Petcare also found that if pet ownership in Australia increased by 10 percent, the health system could save an extra $202 million per year.

With evidence like this highlighting the positive impact pets can have on our livelihood and pet-friendly workplaces and pawternity schemes already being adopted by some companies, could pet tax credits be on the horizon? We'll keep our fingers and paws crossed.

Thinking of adopting an animal? Read up on these five things to know about getting a pet first.

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