A New Study Says Pet Owners—Especially This Type of Pet—Have Better Heart Health
Best news ever.
When it’s National Dog Day, you don’t really need another excuse to obsess over your pup—but we’re giving you one anyway. The Mayo Clinic published a new study that found people with pets—dog owners in particular—are more likely to have better cardiovascular health than non-pet owners. So it turns out all those walks and games of fetch do some serious good for you too.
To find out if there was any correlation between owning a pet and cardiovascular disease risk (CVD) and cardiovascular health (CVH), the study’s authors analyzed more than 1,700 people—24 percent of whom owned dogs, 18 percent owned another type of pet, and the rest of whom did not own pets. For almost two years, researchers compared everything from subjects’ socio demographic characteristics to their body mass index, smoking habits, physical fitness, blood pressure, and more.
Eventually their findings revealed that pet owners in general, but specifically dog owners, were “more likely to report physical activity, diet, and blood glucose at ideal level,” giving them higher cardiovascular health scores than those without pets. According to the study’s analysis conclusion, “Among all pets, dogs appear to positively influence physical activity and to provide social support, which in turn is a predictor of adoption and maintenance of behavior changes. Previous studies have shown that people who own a dog engage in more physical activity than non-owners.”
Dogs ultimately require a more active lifestyle (they’re not going to walk themselves), but also increase their owner's mood, inspire social interactions with other dog owners (or even just passersby), and provide an object for deep, unconditional love—all important things for maintaining a healthy mind, mood, and heart.
"It's very difficult not to increase the level of activity after you get a pet, in particular, a dog—they force us to be active," Francisco Lopez-Jimenez, MD, the study’s author and chair of the Division of Preventive Cardiology at the Mayo Clinic, told ABC News. "Dog ownership increases the well-being of an individual—it helps improve people's physical activity, mood, social life, and diet."
No shade to non-pet owners, though. As long as you stay active, eat well, and surround yourself with people and things you love, you’ll increase the chances of keeping your heart in tip-top shape too. But for dog owners, this is yet another (science-backed) reason to keep your furry friend(s) close.