Give your dog an extra hug today if you have one, because this review of past studies found that pet owners (and especially dog owners – take that, cats!) are physically healthier! While there have been many studies that have shown the positive psychological effects of interactions with animals, this review also highlights improved physical health benefits, which are mostly linked to cardiovascular health, as well. So if you have a pet, thank them for helping to make you a healthier person. If not, maybe you should check out your local shelter, keeping in mind that not only will you be helping an animal but they will also help you in return!
Title: Pet ownership and cardiovascular risk reduction: Supporting evidence, conflicting data, and underlying mechanisms.
Authors: Arhant-Sudhir Kanish; Arhant-Sudhir Rish; Sudhir Krishnankutty
Source: CLINICAL AND EXPERIMENTAL PHARMACOLOGY AND PHYSIOLOGY Volume: 38 Issue: 11 Pages: 734-738
“It is widely believed that pet ownership is beneficial to humans and that some of this benefit is through favourable effects on cardiovascular risk. In the present review, we critically examine the evidence in support of this hypothesis and present the available data with respect to major cardiovascular risk factors.
There is evidence that dog owners are less sedentary and have lower blood pressure, plasma cholesterol and triglycerides, attenuated responses to laboratory-induced mental stress and improved survival following myocardial infarction compared with non-pet owners. However, conflicting data exist with regard to the association between pet ownership and each of these risk factors.
Numerous non-cardiovascular effects of pet ownership have been reported, largely in the psychosocial domain, but the relationship is complex and can vary with demographic and social factors.
A unifying hypothesis is presented, linking improved mood and emotional state to decreased central and regional autonomic activity, improved endothelial function and, thus, lower blood pressure and reduced cardiac arrhythmias.
Overall, ownership of domestic pets, particularly dogs, is associated with positive health benefits.”