It doesn’t take a scientific study to know that spending some time with a cuddly cat or friendly dog will probably put you in a better mood. That being said, researchers from Washington State University have found objective, physiological evidence that just 10 minutes spent petting a cat or dog will lower stress levels.

Numerous colleges and universities across the United States have already implemented “Pet Your Stress Away” programs for students feeling stressed out about finals, papers, or anything else going on at school. Stressed students can spend some time with a dog or cat and hopefully put themselves in a more relaxed mood.

However, the study’s authors say that these types of programs do much more than just improve students’ moods; spending time with a furry friend incites a tangible, physiological response that lowers stress levels.

“Just 10 minutes can have a significant impact,” explains author Patricia Pendry in a release. “Students in our study that interacted with cats and dogs had a significant reduction in cortisol, a major stress hormone.”

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