We all know the famous ‘A dog is man’s best friend.’ Now, several studies show that dogs can also be the heart’s best friend. Cardiovascular disease is the leading cause of death in the United States, and the main culprits behind it, obesity and inactivity, are prevalent among Americans.
But, as Daniel DeNoon, Executive Editor of Harvard Heart Letter, writes, the new findings will put some extra spring in your steps when you’re walking your dog, as having a canine companion can help lower the risk of heart disease.
The report that comes from the American Heart Association shows that dog owners have lower blood pressure, a better cholesterol profile, are less vulnerable to the physical effects of stress, are more active, and are more likely to survive a heart attack.
As the report states, owning a pet, particularly dogs, may be “reasonable for reduction in cardiovascular disease risk.”
However, DeNoon points out to the fact that simply owning a dog may not be enough, citing a 2008 study which has found that people who owned dogs but didn’t walk them, were actually more likely to be obese than those who didn’t own a dog.
However, the positive effects of owning a dog don’t come only from walking it. He cites another study which has shown that owning a pet (dog or cat) had a significantly positive impact on the owners’ blood pressure when under stress.
So, should you get yourself a dog for your heart?
The American Heart Association says no. Adopting, rescuing, or purchasing a pet should not be done “to achieve a reduction in cardiovascular risk.” If you want to take a pet for the love and bonding, go ahead, but otherwise, there’s no point.
It’s because getting a dog is no substitute for taking care of your health by exercising regularly, getting appropriate medical care, and eating heart-healthy food. Owning a dog is just a plus that can encourage you to be more active and help you calm down.
Dr. Lee, a cardiologist and a professor of medicine at Harvard Medical School, notes: “Loneliness can’t be a good thing, either from a cardiovascular or a psychological perspective. I am not going to be prescribing dogs for patients with heart disease, but I certainly won’t discourage them—even if they consider themselves fairly limited by their medical problems.”
So, if you’ve always wanted a dog but always had some excuse to dissuade yourself from getting one, here’s a good reason that could persuade you. But please, do it out of love and take proper care of your pet.
Source: Harvard Health Publishing