We say that a dog is man’s best friend, but did you know he is good for your heart?
The American Heart Association concluded that “pet ownership, particularly dog ownership, is probably associated with decreased CVD risk.” (Published online in Circulation, May 9, 2013) CVD is cardiovascular disease or plain heart disease.
“Some, but not all, studies of pet ownership and systemic blood pressure have found an association between pet ownership and lower blood pressure.”
Dog owners who regularly walked their dogs compare more favorably than non-dog owners. The non-owners “were more likely to report elevated serum cholesterol levels and diabetes mellitus that dog owners who regularly walked their dogs.”
Studies from Japan, Australia, Canada, and California found that dog owners “engage in significantly more walking and physical activity than non-owners.” Moreover, most, but not all, published studies report that pets decrease the body’s reaction to stress. (Circulation)
However, warned Dr. Glenn N. Levine, a professor at the Baylor College of Medicine, and the head of the committee that wrote the statement, “If someone adopts a pet, but still sits on the couch and smokes and eats whatever they want and doesn’t control their blood pressure, that’s not a prudent strategy to reduce their cardiovascular risk.” Still, the group concluded that “owning a dog, in particular, was ‘probably associated’ with a reduced risk of heart disease.” (NY Times, May 9, 2013)