• Mayo Clinic Minute: Why you should live life more like your pets do

Puppy kisses and kitten cuddles are sure to put a smile on your face. But have you ever stopped to think about how good for you your cute canine and feline friends actually are?

Dr. Amit Sood, a Mayo Clinic internal medicine specialist, says the health benefits of pets are greater than most people realize.

Watch: The Mayo Clinic Minute

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"So pets are wonderful for your heart, for your immune system, even for your longevity," Dr. Sood says. "Pets help decrease your loneliness, and they help your self-worth. I mean, how could you feel lonely and unworthy if you have a 10-pound fur ball of pure love jumping 3 feet to just greet you and tell you [that] you are the most important person on the planet?"

Research has shown people who have pets generally live longer.

Dr. Sood has been interested in the positive effects pets can have on a person's physical and emotional well-being for years. He says not only do pets make people happier, but also people who strive to live life more like their pets often find greater happiness.

"They are a role model of forgiveness, and they are [a] role model of low expectation," he says. "You just give them a warm room, a full stomach and someone to play with, and they are happy. And you may leave them at home alone or take them to the vet, but, when you come back, they forgive you right away. So pets tell us what is the simple and beautiful aspects of life. They are the happiest people on the planet. Follow them."

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