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Pets can improve your mental health, study says

Evening Standard logo Evening Standard 13/02/2018 Laura Hampson

a brown and black dog lying on the ground © Provided by Evening Standard Limited If you don’t already have a furry friend at home, it may be time to get one as a new study has revealed that pets can help improve your mental health.

The study, conducted by researchers from the universities of Liverpool, Manchester and Southampton and published in BMC Psychiatry looked at how pets can contribute to the management of long-term mental health.

Researchers looked at 17 international research papers to examine the role pets had on owners with a mental health condition.

The research found that pets “provide benefits” to those with mental health conditions.

Lead study author, Dr Helen Brooks said: “Our review suggests that pets provide benefits to those with mental health conditions.

“Further research is required to test the nature and extent of this relationship, incorporating outcomes that cover the range of roles and types of support pets confer in relation to mental health and the means by which these can be incorporated into the mainstay of support for people experiencing a mental health problem.”

In the UK, there are an estimated 10 million cats with 23 per cent of households having one or more cat and an estimated 11.5 million dogs – with 30 per cent of households being home to one or more dogs.

Prior studies have linked pet ownership to stress reduction and a higher quality of life. All the more reason to head down to your local animal shelter and give a deserving animal a home.

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