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Owning a dog makes you healthier & more relaxed, says science

If you've got a cat near you, you might want to restrain them. Because it looks like they're firmly second in second place when it comes to being man's best friend.

A study by Medical News Today has revealed that not only do children with dogs experience lower stress - but they also have a lower body mass index.

Yes, that's right - owning a dog will actually make you thinner. Maybe it's because the dog just steals all your food? Researchers adjusted for the fact that pet-owning families may differ from non-pet-owning families in terms of socioeconomic factors and still found that dog-owning helped reduce BMI.

It's long been well-known that having a furry companion will increase your general sense of wellbeing, what with all those hugs and blind loyalty, but it seems that the mental benefits go beyond this.

According to the study, children are able to use their ownership of a dog as a conversation icebreaker, which aids them in dealing with social anxiety, putting them at ease. Children aged 7-8 also prefer dogs to humans, as they are able to use them as a confidant, aiding them in building self-esteem. In total, among the 58 per cent of children who own a dog in the home, 12 per cent tested positive on a screening test for anxiety, compared with 21 per cent of children who were dogless.

Researchers concluded that, “Interacting with a friendly dog also reduces cortisol levels, most likely through oxytocin release, which lessens physiologic responses tostress. These hormonal effects may underlie the observed emotional and behavioural benefits of animal-assisted therapy and pet dogs.”

So there you have it. Go and get a dog right now and improve your life. Scientists have told you to.

(Image: Shutterstock)