Watching cute animal videos makes us feel good, we know that already—but now science is backing this up too, with data. A study conducted by the University of Leeds in partnership with Western Australia Tourism examined how watching images and videos of cute animals for 30 minutes drastically affects blood pressure, heart rate and anxiety.
An associate professor at the University of Leeds, Dr Andrea Utley, created a montage of animals that she assumed people would find cute. Speaking to CNN, she explained that “There were some kittens, [some] puppies, [some] baby gorillas. There were quokkas. You know, the usual stuff that you would expect.”
According to the World Wide Fund for Nature (WWF) the quokka is described as the world’s happiest animal. These small wallabies of Australia seem to wear a perpetual smile, and are the subject of countless selfies on Rottnest Island.
But what proof is there that watching these animals makes us truly healthier? Utley’s study involved nineteen students and teachers and was intentionally conducted in December 2019, during the students’ winter examinations, which is an understandably high stress period for students as well as teachers. While the 15 students and four staff members were made to watch 30 minutes of the animal compilation that Utley had created, the study recorded that average blood pressure dropped from 136 to 88 to 115 to 71, which he pointed out was an ideal blood pressure range.
Utley commented that “I was quite pleasantly surprised that during the session, every single measure for every single participant dropped some—heart rate reduced, blood pressure reduced, when they left, they filled the questionnaire in again and indicated that they were feeling less anxious.”
These students also concluded that they preferred the video clips over still images, especially when the animals interacted with humans. Due to COVID-19 setting off restrictions at the beginning of 2020, when Utley had hoped to continue a wider study, this in-person experiment was forced into postponement, however she is still exploring online options in order to keep the study running.
Canine companions and pets in general trigger similar neural pathways to the parent-baby bond, and reduce loneliness as well as depression. Because not all of us have access to a furry friend, videos of them seem to still trigger similar responses.
This is due to a form of social recognition, which is something humans share with a few (though not all) mammals. Next time you scroll through the video section on Facebook, you’ll notice you feel a little less like you’re wasting time and a little more like you’re taking care of yourself. Treat yourself.
International dog day is celebrated on Wednesday 26 August. That’s why, in order to properly celebrate the day along with our fluffy friends, we’ve listed the best dogs account to follow on Instagram.
Number one on the list has to be Boobie Billie. With more than 250,000 followers, Boobie has made a name for herself for being the most fashionable dog on Instagram. Follow for some serious style inspo and some of the cutest dog content out there. Bonus: Boobie Billie is probably the coolest influencer you’ll come across so take some notes—she won’t let you down.
Doug the pug is a real celebrity on the social media platform. With 4 million followers, Doug has met the likes of Billie Eilish, Ed Sheeran, Justin Bieber, Joe Jonas, Cole Sprouse, and more! He even hung out with the cast of Stranger Things—can he get cooler than that? We doubt it, but if that’s still not enough, Doug was also the winner of a People’s Choice Award for Animal Star in 2019. Bonus: follow Doug for a banging cover of Megan Thee Stallion and Cardi B’s ‘WAP’ titled ‘Weird as Pugs’.
Marnie the dog has been a celebrity for years now—some of the real ones might remember Marnie from Vine. Marnie sadly passed away in March 2020 but her owner still regularly updates her Instagram account with some of the funniest pictures and captions we’ve seen. Follow for pictures of the wonkiest but cutest dog you’ll find on Instagram. Bonus: Marnie has more than a thousand posts so you won’t run out of dog content anytime soon. Oh, and Marnie also has a book!
Tuna, aka Tunameltsmyheart on Instagram, has one of those unusual beauties, let’s say. With 2.1 million followers, Tuna has convinced his followers that a dog who shows teeth can still be lovely. Tuna’s overbite is a birth defect, but don’t let him fool you, he is a lovely, well-mannered chap. Bonus: Tuna loves dressing up!
Maya the Samoyed is the answer to all your fluffiest dreams. With 1.9 million followers, this white Samoyed dog is the one to follow if you’re looking for dog meme content and need to learn doggo language. Bonus: Maya’s owner is a pro at filming mini-episodes of Maya’s life and we love it!