Generally, spending time with our pets makes us happy - whether we're walking, exploring, training or snuggling.
And that feeling of contentment isn't in your head. New studies reveal our four-legged friends do have a significant impact on our happiness and sense of wellbeing.
Simple actions can deliver transformative results
'Forget the TV and interact with the dog instead,' says psychologist Dr David Lewis of Mindlab International
'The research we conducted shows this is a profound and effective stress reducer and increases feelings of contentment and relaxation.'
The same applies for stroking cats. Researchers found the simple, repetitive motion is what makes it so relaxing.
Dog walks benefit both of you
As any dog owner will know, it's important to regularly exercise your pet to ensure they stay fit and healthy. This isn't just important for your pooch's physique, but also for their mental wellbeing – walks are stimulating for canine minds as well.
For owners, there are loads of benefits. Regular walking at a moderate pace lowers the risk of suffering from chronic illnesses like heart disease, type 2 diabetes, asthma and some cancers.
Walking your dog is also part of the Dogs Trust’s Canine Charter for Human Health. The Charter shows dog owners make fewer visits to their GP, have lower blood pressure, are less likely to get depressed and can have a stronger immune system.
The power of cats
While you can’t really walk a cat – please send us clips of you trying, though – they're nevertheless just as beneficial to your health. A major 2011 study
conducted by the Mental Health Foundation and Cats Protection found they are a great source of comfort and help alleviate anxiety.
It reported a massive 87 per cent of cat owners believe their feline friend has a positive impact on their wellbeing, with 76 per cent of respondents saying coping with everyday life is easier with a cat in tow.
Dr Eva Chylarova, head of research at the Mental Health Foundation says looking after a pet 'can bring structure to your day, reduce feelings of isolation and loneliness and act as a link to other people.'
Part of the family
From perking us up after a tough day to keeping us active, pets have the potential to transform and enrich our lives in so many ways.
A simple snuggle with a pet can lessen your stress, playing with them can make you laugh, coming home to them can do away with loneliness and they can help you to be more social.
And remember, no matter how old your pet gets, they deserve the best from you in return. Make sure that you are covered with insurance
so they get the best medical care available for them should they become ill.