Stress is something that affects most Australians at some point in their lives. But you may be relieved to know that engaging with your furry friend can help.

If you ever needed a reason to hug your four legged friend a little tighter, here it is. A recent study found that children who pat their cats and dogs when stressed have lower cortisol levels.

Cortisol is a hormone produced in response to a stressful event. The lower the cortisol level, the less stressed a person is.

Just one pat won’t do, the study fond that levels varied depending on how much the child engaged with the animal. The more they played and petted, the lower the stress levels were.

Interestingly, when the pets hovered or approached the child first the children showed higher levels of cortisol.

Understanding how stress functions early in life is crucial to preventing stress in adulthood. The way we learn to deal with stress in childhood has lifelong consequences on our emotional health and wellbeing.


The power of your pet extends further than just reducing stress. Whether it be a dog, cat, bird, mouse or lizard there are a number of other health benefits of owning a pet.

What are the benefits of owning a pet?

1. Increased cardiovascular health

Owning a pet can have an immense impact on your cardiovascular health, lowering blood pressure, lowering cholesterol and lowering triglycerides in men.

2. Boosts your mood

If you feel happiest around your pet this doesn’t necessarily make you a ‘crazy cat lady’. Science has proved that regular contact with animals boosts your mood.
Being with and regularly exercising pets increases serotonin, oxytocin and dopamine. These are the happy, loving and calming hormones which circulate our body. Higher levels of these can increase our general mental health.

3. Strengthens the immune system for children

It may seem odd but research has shown that children who grow up with dogs are 33% less likely to develop related allergies. Overall they found children exposed to animals at a young age have stronger immune systems.

4. Enhanced social connectedness

Getting out and about with your pet can help keep you connected, offering a higher likelihood of human interaction. Walking with your pet can help you meet new people and can be an instant ice breaker if you’re feeling socially anxious.

5. Great caregivers

Somehow our pets just know when we are unwell. Being curled up on the couch surrounded by a wall of snotty tissues is made infinitely better when there is a furry friend there with you.
As if you needed any more excuses to love your pet! Next time someone questions why you’d rather stay at home with your cat or dog, let them know it’s for your health.