Recent findings published in the journal BMC Psychiatry suggest that pets provide major emotional benefits to those living with long-term mental health conditions.

Researchers found that dogs, cats and other domesticated creatures can offer comfort and affection, sense when their masters need support and help reduce folks’ feelings of worry, depression and loneliness. In addition, scientists also noted that pets gave their owners a sense of identity and self-worth and lent meaning to their lives.

But researchers also reported that pet ownership could sometimes be accompanied by burdensome financial and caretaking responsibilities, not to mention that the loss of a pet can be traumatic.

Experts stress that the best way to incorporate animals into home care plans is for individuals to choose pets that enhance their lifestyles.