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Sit Back and Relax With These 4 Pets That Lower Your Stress Level

Interaction with animals can be a form of therapy -- and is an excellent stress-reduction strategy. Knowing which pets are stress relievers is a must to ease anxiety and boost your quality of life.

While some pets make you want to pull your hair out, others can actually relieve stress and make life more enjoyable. A 2012 review published in Frontiers in Psychology found that human-animal interactions reduce stress and anxiety, and enhance human health. Harvard Health Publications says that pets can also lower blood pressure, improve heart disease recovery, boost psychological well-being, and increase self-esteem. Choosing the right pet is a must when you want a stress-free lifestyle.


Acquiring a pet dog can significantly reduce stress, according to a 2015 study published in the Journal of Autism and Developmental Disorders. The 2012 review in Frontiers in Psychology found that having a dog promotes social interaction and extroversion. Dog breeds that are generally lower-energy pets include bulldogs, basset hounds, cavalier king Charles spaniels, and pugs.


Getting a cat is a simple stress-reducing strategy that may even boost your life expectancy. Cats are generally easy pets to take care of, and may provide you with several health benefits. For example, a review published in 2009 in the Journal of Vascular and Interventional Neurology found that cat owners had lower risks of dying from heart disease.


Even if you don’t own a horse, spending time with one can reduce stress and may provide you with other mental health benefits, according to a 2014 review published in Biomed Central Psychiatry. Authors of this review point out that being around horses can be a form of therapy that reduces depression and anxiety — and boosts overall quality of life.


While generally not considered traditional pets, rabbits may help reduce stress, fear, and anxiety, according to the 2012 review published in Frontiers in Psychology. In this study, participants who petted live rabbits reported lower levels of anxiety than those who petted non-living animals. Rabbits can usually be kept outdoors, or litter-box trained and kept inside your home like cats.

An experienced health, nutrition and fitness writer, Erin Coleman is a registered and licensed dietitian and holds a dietetics degree from the University of Wisconsin-Madison. She also has worked as a clinical dietitian and health educator in outpatient settings. Erin's work is published on popular health websites, such as and

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