Healthdirect Free Australian health advice you can count on.

Medical problem? Call 1800 022 222. If you need urgent medical help, call triple zero immediately

healthdirect Australia is a free service where you can talk to a nurse or doctor who can help you know what to do.

A pet can be good for your mental health

A pet can be good for your mental health
beginning of content

7 ways pets improve your mental health

2-minute read

Pets make excellent companions, they're also good for your mental health. However, if you are really struggling to look after yourself, talk to your doctor before you take on caring for a pet.

1. Pets reduce stress

Many people feel stress. Research shows that just patting a pet can ease stress and reduce your blood pressure. Even watching fish swimming in an aquarium reduces stress. It can also help you relax and practice mindfulness.

2. Pets provide companionship

Pets can be affectionate, accepting, loyal, honest and consistent. If you feel isolated with little support, a pet can help reduce your loneliness.

3. Pets fulfill the human need to touch

Most people feel better when they have physical contact with others. Simply patting a pet can lower your heart rate.

4. Pets require routine and organisation

Most pets require a routine of feeding, cleaning and exercise. This can give you purpose and motivation which can help your self-esteem, wellbeing and mental health.

5. Pets provide a sense of purpose

A pet can provide you with a sense of purpose, which helps improve mental health conditions like depression and anxiety. If you have a pet, you are never alone and you are also responsible for looking after them.

6. Pets increase your social interaction

Pets create opportunities for better social interaction, especially if you join an animal club or attend pet shows. Going to pet-friendly events, beaches or parks can also help increase your social network. You could make new friends just by taking your dog for a walk or waiting at the vet, due to the shared interest in your pets.

7. Pets improve your fitness (dog owners)

If you own a dog, they need regular walks, and this exercise is good for you too. Exercise, like walking, has many benefits for your mental health and wellbeing. You can also use the time walking your dog to improve your fitness and make the most of the outdoors to help you further develop mindfulness and relaxation.

If you have a fear of social situations, or social phobia, a pet can help with slowly introducing you to other people who also have pets and enhance your mental health.

If you are considering getting a pet, ReachOut suggests you should think carefully about whether you can look after a pet.

Learn more here about the development and quality assurance of healthdirect content.

Last reviewed: July 2019

Back To Top

Need more information?

These trusted information partners have more on this topic.

Top results

Pets and mental health | Coping | ReachOut Australia

We all know that pets doing hilarious things win the internet, but did you know that pets can also be winners for mental health, too?

Read more on website

Connecting with pets | Head to Health

Spending time with animals can benefit your mental wellbeing and physical health. Caring for a pet can bring about a sense of purpose and reduce social isolation.

Read more on Head to Health website

Do pets have an impact on our mental health? - The SANE Blog

Did you know that Australia has one of the highest levels of pet ownership in the world?Around 36% of households own a dog and 23% include a cat as part of the family. And then there are horses, guinea pigs, fish, birds . . .

Read more on SANE Australia website

Snapshot - Mental Health Monitoring App for Adults

Snapshot is a mobile app designed by The Black Dog Institute that allows Australian adults to confidentially measure, monitor and manage factors that may influence depression and anxiety, using evidence based feedback from The Black Dog Institute. Helps to increase self-awareness and knowledge of the lifestyle factors that may affect mental health and happiness. Provides options to engage online and offline professional mental health services within Australia. Easily downloadable through Apple iStore, Google Play or through the Digital Dog website.

Read more on Black Dog Institute website

Get mentally fit in your workplace | Black Dog Institute

The mental health toolkit is a practical guide for Australian workers to assist them with understanding and managing common mental health issues in the workplace.

Read more on Black Dog Institute website

What is bipolar disorder | Black Dog Institute

Bipolar disporder is a mental health condition with strong changes in mood and energy, both highs manic and lows depression. Read about types, signs, triggers

Read more on Black Dog Institute website

Seeking help for bipolar disorder | Black Dog Institute

If you or someone you know is experiencing bipolar disorder there is help available for your mental health issues and to prevent things getting worse.

Read more on Black Dog Institute website

Helping someone else | Black Dog Institute

Support from friends and family plays a significant role in recovery from a mental health issue. Tips, materials, links on how to support someone

Read more on Black Dog Institute website

What is anxiety | Black Dog Institute

Anxiety is actually a term for a group of mental health disorders. Each anxiety disorder has its own specific set of symptoms. Learn more about anxiety.

Read more on Black Dog Institute website

General wellbeing | Black Dog Institute

A strong sense of wellbeing contributes to good mental health. Learn more about different ways to enhance and promote your overall wellbeing.

Read more on Black Dog Institute website

Healthdirect 24hr 7 days a week hotline

24 hour health advice you can count on

1800 022 222

Government Accredited with over 140 information partners

We are a government-funded service, providing quality, approved health information and advice

Australian Government, health department logo ACT Government logo New South Wales government, health department logo Northen Territory Government logo Government of South Australia, health department logo Tasmanian government logo Government of Western Australia, health department logo