A new study has come even closer to proving what many people already believe to be true: Pets can alleviate stress and improve overall health both at home and at the office

The study, conducted by the Washington, D.C.-based Cohen Research Group, surveyed 1,000 family doctors and general practitioners. The data show that physicians are more likely than the general public to own a pet - but why? 

Of the doctors surveyed, 97 percent said that they believe there are health benefits to owning a pet. A whopping 96 percent of  doctors that recommended pets had suggested dogs for their patients. Cats (63 percent) and fish (13 percent) came in at second and third place, respectively. Moreover, a large majority of the doctors who have recommended a companion saw the patient's condition improve. 

Do these benefits carry over to the office? Some companies think so. Indianapolis-based Inverse Square allows (well-behaved) pets at work because it helps employees' time pass more happily. CEO Bob Baird told Inc., "With dogs around, it is too hard to get bent out of shape."

Why do pets make such good relievers of stress? The doctors surveyed say that animals can help in a few different ways. Pets not only improved patients' mood and outlook, but also improved a patient's mental and physical condition as well as helping build a relationship with medical staff. 

Don't bring Fido to work quite yet though, only 17 percent of employers allow pets in the work place, according to the American Pet Products Association. 

Despite many of the doctors having seen pets' potential benefits, scientific research has to catch up to common knowledge. Many of the doctors say that they will wait for more medical evidence to prove the benefits before prescribing a four-legged friend to a patient.

Published on: Nov 7, 2014