Pets are great at reducing stress, according to a number of studies. A furry friend can lower blood pressure and ease anxieties, making you feel calmer and more relaxed.
It's a well known fact that Australians love their pets. In fact, there are approximately 23.7 million pets in the country. Cats and dogs are the most common pet, with 4.2 million dogs and 3.5 million cats living in homes across the nation, and these pets are boosting the health of their owners.
How your pet helps with stress
Numerous studies show that interactions with animals lowers stress levels.
Playing with or cuddling your pet has been proven to release the hormone oxytocin, which reduces stress, and decreases the production of the hormone cortisol, which is released when you're stressed.
The overall effect is a feeling of being more relaxed. Having less stress in your life also brings benefits for you physically.
A study conducted in 2001 found that people who owned a pet had lower blood pressure, and could maintain this even when they were going through stressful times.
Another study showed that when people looked after an animal for three months, the improvements to their health, including their blood pressure and stress levels, were obvious.
Over time, people who have higher levels of cortisol and blood pressure are more likely to have high cholesterol and hypertension, which can lead to a variety of other health problems.
It doesn't take much to boost your health though - a great start can be looking after and interacting with a pet.
Professor of psychiatry at the University of Pennsylvania, Dr Aaron Katcher said, "When we are around animals, we become more joyous, communicative, expressive, and calm."
Being with an animal can help take your mind off your current problems and give you the perspective you need to deal with what is going on. They can help you revaluate your situation and remember what's important.
If you feel ready to adopt a pet and are ready to commit to a furry friend, this is just one of the benefits you'll gain.