The therapeutic value of caring for and interacting with an animal is something which many people believe in despite the fact that it is hard to quantify scientifically.
However, a recent study appears to have proven once and for all that having pets around really can be beneficial to our mental health, after a team of scientists noted that children with autism tend to become more sociable towards each other when playing with animals.
The study, which was published in the journal PLOS ONE, has revealed that kids who spent ten minutes playing with guinea pigs displayed "55 per cent more social behaviours" than children who spent that time playing with toys instead.
Adopting a pet can be a great way to help your child develop, teaching them about responsibility and compassion as well as providing them with a loveable furry friend. However, anyone thinking of bringing an animal into their home should consider if they really have the time and money to provide the necessary level of care, medication and pet food.