If you want to live a healthier life get a dog, according to researchers.
The companionship offered by many pets is thought to be good for you, but the benefits of owning a dog outstrip those of cat owners, the study says.
A psychologist from Queen's University, Belfast, said dog owners tended to have lower blood pressure and cholesterol.
Writing in the British Journal of Health Psychology, she says that regular 'walkies' may partly explain the difference.
Dr Deborah Wells reviewed dozens of earlier research papers which looked at the health benefits of pet ownership.
In some cases, the social support offered by an animal is greater than the support than another human could offer
She confirmed that pet owners tended in general to be healthier than the average member of the population.
However, her research suggested that dog ownership produced more positive influence than cat ownership.
As well as lower blood pressure and cholesterol, she said dog-owners suffered fewer minor ailments and serious medical problems.
There was also the suggestion that dogs could aid recovery from serious illnesses such as heart attacks, and act as 'early warning' to detect an approaching epileptic seizure.