Owning a Pet Has Surprising Benefits For Your Heart Health, Study Finds

From their unconditional love to their curious playfulness, to the lessons in responsibility and self-care that they teach us daily, we can confidently say that dogs bring so much to our lives. So, when a new study reported that owning a dog may help maintain a healthy heart, we weren’t even remotely surprised; these animals are genuinely too pure for this earth.The study that was recently published in Mayo Clinic Proceedings: Innovations, Quality & Outcomes, sought to examine the association between owning a dog and cardiovascular health and disease risk factors. The researchers gathered data on over 1,700 participants who were assessed and then given a score based on the American Heart Association’s Life’s seven ideal health factors: BMI, eating habits, physical activity, smoking status, blood pressure, blood glucose levels, and overall cholesterol. These subjects had no previous history of heart disease, and the scientists used these health scoring guidelines to compare their cardiovascular health to those who don’t own pets.

Shutterstock
Shutterstock

According to a press release, people who owned a pet were more likely to report leading a healthier lifestyle that included physical activity and a better diet, with blood sugar levels close to the ideal. The most significant benefits of having a pet were those who owned a dog, regardless of their age, sex, and education level.

This is probably because those who own dogs tend to move around a lot more, whether that’s to go outside or to play with and take care of them. Owning a dog has also been linked to better mental health in other studies and less social isolation perception—both risk factors for heart attacks. This was supported by a recent study conducted at the University of British Columbia that shed light on the prospect that having a dog could ease depression symptoms. More and more research has shown pets help older people feel less stressed and less lonely.

 

Humans are capable of frustration, guilt, judgment, and deception; for the most part, but pets just want to love and be loved. Studies have shown that interacting with dogs for only half an hour can raise our oxytocin levels. So, whether you want to have a supportive, loving, and endlessly accepting companion to care for or boost your heart health, improve your mental state, adopting a pet might be something to think about. Bear in mind that rescuing a pet is a huge responsibility and not one to be taken lightly—but when you are ready, it might just prove to be one of the most rewarding decisions you’ll make.