If you’re an animal lover, there may be a good reason why. Research suggests pets may be a boon to your health. Pets can help lower blood pressure, help you cope with stress, and boost your mood. Studies have found that time spent with pets can be a helpful part of the care plan for those with mental illness. They can help them manage their symptoms better. And they provide emotional and social support and acceptance.

If you tend to have allergies to cats or dogs, it may be best to stay away from pets. But there are many pet breeds that may not trigger your allergies. Talk with your doctor or your local vet about your options. And if it’s hard for you to keep a pet, think about volunteering some time at a local shelter.