Dogs are great for fireside snuggles, beach walks and of course, making you appear younger than you are.
Yep, you read right: a new study has shown that owning a dog can turn back the ageing clock, with dog owners acting 10 years younger than their biological age.
Researchers at St Andrews University monitored the activity of 547 elderly people in Tayside, whose average age was 79. Of those who took part, 9% – around 50 people – were dog owners.
Over a seven-day period participants were asked to wear an accelerometer which measured their movements.
The study was led by the university’s School of Geography and Geosciences senior lecturer, Dr Zhiqiang Feng.
According to the Health Medicine Network, Feng said: "If you have a dog in the home, your physical activity level is roughly equivalent to a person 10 years younger.
"It may not add a decade to your life, but it is very beneficial – it is all about getting up and out and about."
The survey, published in the journal Preventive Medicine, states: "Results suggest that dog ownership may motivate personal activity and enable older people to overcome many potential barriers to [getting out and being physically active], such as lack of social support, inclement weather and concerns over personal safety.
"Our results show that dog ownership is also associated with an increased level of physical activity in the over-65s.
"On average, older dog owners were 12% more active than their counterparts who did not own a dog."
The positive effect was regardless of the distance an owner walks with their pet.
The study also found that owning a dog can also have a beneficial effect on a person's metal health.
Of those who took part, the dog owners all showed significantly lower levels of anxiety and depression.