Benefits of pets

  • Pets are an integral part of our lives as Australians. About 80% of Australians have an animal companion at some time. Pets are important in children's lives as they provide enjoyment and help children develop responsibilities transferable to adulthood. Sometimes pet relationships are ranked higher than certain kinds of human relationships for comfort, esteem, support and confidence. Some benefits of pet ownership have been identified in areas of child development, family harmony and even health.

    Child development

    Having a relationship with a pet can help develop such skills as:

    • Nurturing skills
    • Responsibility
    • Empathy
    • A caring attitude
    • Communication

    Studies have shown that children with pets:

    • Have higher self esteem
    • Have improved social skills
    • Are more likely to be physically active, and less likely to be overweight or obese

    Family harmony

    Pet ownership also has a beneficial effect on family harmony. Research shows that families with a pet:

    • Spend a lot more time interacting
    • Have a basis for fun activities and friendly conversation including the important topics of life


    The relaxation and relief from stress provided by animal companionship also yields health benefits for parents. In comparison with their pet-less counterparts, pet owners:

    • Have a decreased risk of cardiovascular disease
    • Have fewer minor illnesses and complaints
    • Visit the doctor less often

    Whilst owning a dog can be a delightful family experience and has enormous benefits for the child and the family, parents need to be aware of the risk of injury from dog bites.