Any pet parent can vouch for the fact that spending time with your furry friend is a great way to relieve stress. Think about it: we love our dogs, cats, and other pets just as much as we do any other member of the family. After a long day, all most of us want to do is curl up on the couch and spend some time hanging out with them. Well, for dog owners, the benefits might go beyond puppy cuddles.

According to DogCare.com, a study by the National Center for Biotechnology Information found that petting your dog can actually help lower your blood pressure. The findings, which they refer to as the “Pet Effect,” were the result of a study where 60 college students had their blood pressure and heart rates monitored while hanging out with dogs. They came to the conclusion that when someone pets a dog, rather than just talking or interacting with them verbally, their blood pressure is lower. Which means that touch is the key factor in deriving the greatest benefit from your human-canine interactions.

The results probably come as no big surprise to scientists who have traced the health benefits of being a pet owner. Another study from 1995, conducted by Erika Friedman at the University of Maryland Hospital, showed that heart attack patients who owned dogs were eight times more likely to still be alive a year after being discharged than those without dogs. No wonder they're man's best friend.