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Pet power; we love our pets

We love our pets. Australians and New Zealanders have two of the highest rates of pet ownership in the world, with companion animals far outnumbering the countries’ human populations1-3. Research shows that our love of pets is well founded as they can enhance our quality of life1,4.
 
Pet ownership is linked to both physical and psychological benefits – which combine to improve overall health and wellbeing4,5. Pet ownership (particularly dog ownership) has been linked to more exercise (important for people with Osteoarthritis6), lower blood pressure and better handling of stress5. Pets can also provide owners with an important source of social support and, consequently, a greater sense of belongingness. Reassuringly, pets do not replace family and friends as a source of social support – they complement them4. Pet owners have the best of both worlds!

Pets certainly play a major role in the lives of many. According to recent research in Australia, two out of three pet owners think their pets are more dependable than their friends, and 40% think their pets are more dependable than their partner7.

Do you think a pet would brighten up your life? Think carefully before making any decisions. Owning a pet is a long-term commitment (cats can live well into their 20s8) and requires space, time, resources, energy, patience and love. But if you’re prepared to make the effort, the rewards can be great.
 
References:
  1. Australian Companion Animal Council. Contribution of the Pet Care Industry to the Australian Economy. 7th Edition, 2010.
  2. The New Zealand Companion Animal Council, 2011. http://www.spca.org.nz/files/documents/shop/AnimalsVoice/WEBSITE%20AV%20AUDIT.pdf
  3. Australian Bureau of Statistics Population Clock on 8 May 2014 at 3:16:02 PM (Canberra time) http://www.abs.gov.au/ausstats/abs%40.nsf/94713ad445ff1425ca25682000192af2/1647509ef7e25faaca2568a900154b63?OpenDocument
  4. McConnell AR. Journal of Personality and Social Psychology 2011;101(6):1239-1252.
  5. Levine GN, et al. Circulation 2013;127:1-11.
  6. State Government of Victoria, Better Health Channel Factsheet : Osteoarthritis. May 2013. http://www.betterhealth.vic.gov.au/bhcv2/bhcarticles.nsf/pages/Osteoarthritis
  7. Animal Health Alliance Media Release ‘Pet Power: Australian survey reveals all’, 23 September, 2013.
  8. RSPCA Queensland, 2011.
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