The Mood-Boosting Power of Pets

Feeling overwhelmed? Turn to your four-legged friend. Research says that interactions with dogs and cats can significantly reduce stress.

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According to a recent study from Washington State University, a 10-minute hands-on interaction with dogs and/or cats significantly lowered cortisol levels — and therefore stress — in students. 

Fit woman with dog giving kisses

The hands-on part of this equation seems to be essential because another group of students who just looked at pictures of pets didn’t present the same drop in cortisol, according to Patricia Pendry, Ph.D., professor at Washington State and co-author of the paper. Also unclear is whether pet ownership has the same effect as a quickie stroke sesh, “but theoretically, it makes sense that when pet owners spend time with their pets, they’re likely to experience some kind of relaxing benefit,” Pendry says.

Spend some time with your four-legged friend and give Fido a rubdown. No pet at your place? Visit a pet cafe, or do a little volunteering at the local animal shelter.