Whether it's a dog or cat, fish or bird, owning a pet has been shown to give health benefits to their human owners, according to Australian pet experts on Love Your Pet Day this 20th February.
Love Your Pet Day is observed worldwide and reminds pet owners to focus some special attention on their non-human partners. Pet owners are encouraged to thank their little friends and treat them to something special, such as their favorite food, an extra walk in the park, a visit to the office, or even a pet massage and fur trim. Research shows that Aussies who love their pet are likely to be repaid with a happier and healthier life.
The latest research into human-animal interaction shows that pet ownership might improve patient survival after a heart attack, help with stress and reduce blood pressure. Dog ownership has also been shown to encourage over two hours of extra physical activity every week. There is even scientific evidence of the positive psychological benefits of pet ownership. Overall, a wealth of research shows how pets can improve the physical and emotional health of children and adults of all ages.
Australian universities, in partnership with the Waltham Centre for Pet Nutrition and Mars Petcare, have for decades conducted globally recognised research into the positive benefits of pet ownership.
Dr Kersti Seksel, veterinary specialist at the Sydney Animal Behaviour Service, said: 'Pet owners often mention the care and affection they give their pets and the sense of wellbeing they receive from having pets in their lives. It's a mutually beneficial relationship that can help humans stay physically and emotionally healthy from childhood well into old age."
Experts are concerned that changes in society such as more people renting homes and restrictions on walking dogs in public areas may reduce the number of pets in Australia.
Dr Kersti Seksel explained, 'Pets need attention and the right environment to have a happy life. As we become busier and live in more built-up areas with restrictions on where pets can live and go, the number of pets in Australia may fall. As a country, Australia needs to remain pet friendly so current and future pet owners can experience the many advantages of having a companion animal in their lives."
For those who don't have pets, Love Your Pet Day is the perfect time to consider owning a pet, either by adopting from a rescue organisation or buying from a reputable animal breeder.
The Waltham Centre for Pet Nutrition, owned by Mars, has been a leading scientific authority on pet nutrition and wellbeing for fifty years. In 2013 alone, Waltham published 39 peer reviewed scientific papers. One revealed that structured interaction with dogs can help people with dementia.