Having a Dog is Good for Your Heart, Studies Say


Ask any dog lover if their canine companion is good for their heart and they will say, “Of course they are!” But the heart healthy effects of owning a dog go beyond falling in love with their furry hugs and slobbery kisses. According to several studies and a new health report from Harvard Medical School, having a dog may decrease your risk of developing cardiovascular disease and help improve heart health. It’s true! Having a dog is good for your heart.

The special health report from Harvard, titled “Get Healthy, Get a Dog: The health benefits of canine companionship”, takes an in-depth look at the positive physical and emotional effects of dog ownership. It turns out that having a dog can help improve symptoms of depression and anxiety, lower blood pressure, and reduce heart rate, as well as a myriad of other heart-related benefits. Dogs are particularly beneficial for reducing feelings of loneliness in the elderly too, which strongly suggests that having a dog is good for your heart. Fewer aging adults suffering from loneliness-related stress means happier seniors with healthier hearts living longer, more fulfilling lives.

Studies have also shown that owning a dog means you most likely have lower blood pressure than your canine-free counterparts. As per the studies’ results, this is most likely due to the calming effect dogs have on their owners, as well as the fact that dog owners tend to get more exercise. People with dogs are typically more physically active because they walk their dogs and play with them on a regular basis. In fact, a study of over 2,000 adults showed that dog owners who walked their dogs were less likely to be overweight than sedentary dog owners or those without dogs. Because obesity is among the leading causes of heart disease and heart-related deaths, these studies suggest having a dog is good for your heart, particularly if you take them for walks or regularly play a rousing game of fetch.

Interestingly, there is also a modest amount of evidence that shows owning a dog can lower LDL (bad) cholesterol levels. Lower levels of bad cholesterol are associated with better cardiovascular health. A study that looked at the cholesterol levels of both dog owners and non-owners found that those who owned a dog had lower HDL cholesterol and triglyceride levels than non-owners. The resulting differences weren’t explainable by the participants’ diet, smoking habits, or body mass index (BMI) either. Yet another NIH study found that people with cardiovascular disease were more likely to survive a heart attack if they owned a dog. The study, which included 421 participants, found that dog owners had a higher survival rate one year after a heart attack, as compared to those who did not own dogs.

If you own a dog or are thinking about it, the potential boost to your heart health is an extra, added benefit. However, no dog should be adopted purely to assist with reducing its new owner’s risk of heart disease. While studies suggest that having a dog is good for your heart, it is never advisable to bring a dog into your life if you are not fully prepared or able to care for it.

Having a Dog is Good for Our Heart, Too

At Grand Oaks of Jensen Beach, we know how much you love your little furry buddy, and we wouldn’t want you to go a single day without them. That’s why our assisted living community is pet friendly. We also regularly invite special therapy dogs from the local Humane Society to visit, snuggle, and bring lots of love to our residents.

For more information or to schedule a tour of our dog friendly community, call 772-444-3400 today!

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