Is Owning a Dog Good for Your Heart?
If you need another reason to get a dog – here are 6 heart-healthy ones.
Pet ownership may positively affect physical and mental health, according to many studies completed over the years. Researchers haven't been able to show actual proof that owning a dog is better for your heart, but they have drawn links between heart-healthy benefits and dog ownership. Experts at the American Heart Association think there's enough evidence to reasonably assume that owning a dog may reduce heart disease risk.
What are some of the heart-healthy benefits dog owners may experience?
- More exercise. Dog owners typically get more exercise than non-owners. When Fido needs to be walked, it means you need to get out and move, too.
- Lower blood pressure. Dog owners tend to have lower blood pressure on average than non-owners, according to several studies. Research shows that blood pressure may also go down when a person pets a dog.
- Better cholesterol levels. Dog owners may also have lower cholesterol and triglyceride levels that are not explained by diet, smoking or BMI, according to a study, although the reasons for this are not clear.
- Better reaction to stress. Dogs have been shown to have a calming effect on people. When petting a dog, your body releases relaxation hormones and reduces levels of stress hormones. Research shows that being around dogs may make heart rate and blood pressure go up less and return to normal more quickly when stressed.
- More social connection. Having a dog makes it easier for you to connect with other people – and social interaction is good for your mental and physical health.
- Increased happiness. People with pets may be happier, more trusting and less lonely than those who don't own pets, according to research. When you're happier, it's good for your heart in more ways than one.
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Date Last Reviewed: February 2, 2022
Editorial Review: Andrea Cohen, Editorial Director, Baldwin Publishing, Inc. Contact Editor
Medical Review: Perry Pitkow, MD