Click here to view original web page at Lonely people are turning to pets for friendship and unconditional love, study reveals

A survey carried out for us reveals that 88 per cent of owners admitted they bought a four-legged friend because they were lonely – with three quarters saying affection from their pet made them their perfect pal.

One in ten said they classed their pet as a substitute baby. Having a dog, cat or other animal as part of the family also increased the level of happiness within the household.

Owning a pet has health benefits too, with medical evidence suggesting that animals reduce stress and blood pressure and lower cholesterol.

Other reasons for owning a pet include partners wanting an animal, to keep fit and exercise more, and to teach children about responsibility.