After a tough day at work, there's nothing better than coming home and playing with your dog or cat to make you feel better.

But which is the best stress buster?

The BBC put both species to the test in a unique experiment that exposed us to one of our biggest fears - singing in public.

Human volunteers first had their heart rates and blood pressure monitored, then were split into three groups. One was given a puppy to play with, the second a kitten and the third - the control group - nothing.


Then they were all told they would be singing in front of a panel of three judges.

As expected, the heart rate of the control group soared by 14 per cent at the daunting news and their blood pressure went up by 9 per cent. Yet the heart rate of both groups with a puppy or kitten went up by 7 per cent - just half that of the group with no pet to play with.

And astonishingly, those with the dogs experienced a 6 per cent decrease in blood pressure, proving conclusively the power of a dog to transmit calm.

Kittens produced a similar beneficial effect, lowering the humans' blood pressure by 2.2 per cent. Given the small sample size, scientists have concluded both species have exactly the same de-stressing effect on us.

"It ties in with other research that suggests people who have cats and dogs suffer less cardiovascular disease," says Chris Packham.

"In the long term it's good for those pet owners when it comes to reducing stress."

- Daily Mail