Owning a pet increases your chances of being happy and successful, according to a study.
Experts who polled 1,000 dog and cat owners over the age of 55, and 1,000 adults of the same age without a pet, found those with canine and feline companionships were twice as likely to consider themselves a success.
In addition, pet owners are more likely to be married, have a child, bag themselves a university degree and have found their perfect job.
Pet owners also do almost double the amount of exercise – raising their heart rate five times a week compared to just three times for non-pet owners – and nine in 10 owners believe their pet is good for their health and wellbeing.
The study revealed owners of cats and dogs are more likely to volunteer for a charity, and go on a dream holiday.
But those without pets are more likely to have paid off their mortgage (69 per cent compared to 60 per cent) and retire earlier (46 per cent compared to 35 per cent).
Researchers also found pets bring laughter to six in 10 owners, and seven in 10 feel more relaxed in their company.
While 43 per cent value their dog or cat as it means they always have someone to talk to, 16 per cent went as far as to say that if it wasn’t for their pet, they wouldn’t ever speak to anyone.
And half of those surveyed, through OnePoll.com, admit they never feel lonely due to having a pet, while the same percentage always look forward to getting home to see them.
For 45 per cent, their pet is the main reason they exercise and another 31 per cent claim that having a pet gives them a purpose in life.
Psychologist and author, Corinne Sweet, said: “The psychological and emotional benefits of pet ownership are well-known among mental health professionals.
“Having a close bond with a domestic animal can boost ‘feel good’ biochemicals such as endorphins and oxytocin; which can make owners feel more relaxed, calmer and happier at home.
“The act of stroking a pet can lower high blood-pressure, and being greeted or comforted by a pet can increase general emotional wellbeing.
“Owners may also talk to their furry friends and gain a friendly, comforting ear and warm welcome when they are feeling unwell, sad or lonely.
“The many benefits of pet ownership also include the cardio-vascular exercise of dog-walking, and even the light housework associated with feeding and clearing up after our beloved animals.”