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Good Vibes Only! How Your Pet Can Unleash Your Wellbeing Potential

In an era where people are prioritising personal wellness, the profound and positive impact pets can have on human wellbeing is becoming more and more evident.

New Zealand has over 4.35 million pets, making us truly a nation of animal lovers – only the USA boasts a larger proportion of households with companion animals[1].

Southern Cross’ recent Healthy Futures Report[2] showed that 95 per cent of pet owners believe their furry friend is good for their health and wellbeing.

Southern Cross Pet Insurance Sales Manager and former Vet Nurse Kerri Murray said, "We have seen an increase in pet ownership in New Zealand, and you can understand why, given the companionship, and wellbeing benefits they bring to their owners.”

Regular interaction with a pet can reduce feelings of loneliness (especially for senior pet owners), increase feelings of social support, and boost their human’s mood[3]. Children can also benefit, caring for their fur baby can help with self-esteem and self-confidence, and teach them valuable life skills around empathy and relationship building.

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In addition to the emotional benefits (such as an unconditional loving greeting at the end of the day), owning a pet also encourages physical activity and a healthier lifestyle.

Regular walks, outdoor play, and the responsibility of caring for a pet all contribute to increased exercise, fostering better cardiovascular health and overall fitness. This is echoed in findings which showed that 89 per cent of animal owners see pets helping their owners remain active, particularly dogs.

Murray said owning a pet is a great motivator to bring further organisation to your day, “even if it’s just a reminder that at 5pm the cat needs its dinner. It helps you maintain structure and consistency in your own routine.”

It’s understood that regular tasks help with the maintenance of a person’s circadian rhythm, which is essential to maintaining physical wellbeing and optimal sleep patterns. Other repeated tasks also help in establishing a psychological sense of progression throughout the day, which can help to alleviate stress and provide purpose.

While the wellbeing benefits of pet ownership are clear, Murray emphasises the responsibility of the relationship between a person and their pet.

"While the benefits of pet ownership are immense, we must acknowledge that not everyone may be ready for the commitment it entails. There are a number of factors to consider for example, your lifestyle, financial capabilities for food and medical care, and the time required for proper care before bringing a pet into their homes. It's crucial to ensure that both the pet and the owner are set up for a fulfilling and responsible relationship.

"We believe that a healthy pet leads to a healthier owner, and we’re committed to supporting the wellbeing of both."


[1] Companion Animals NZ – Companion Animals in New Zealand 2020 report

2 Southern Cross Healthy Futures Report 2022

3 Harvard Health Publishing: Harvard Medical School – The heartfelt benefits of pet ownership

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