How Owning a Dog Makes You Healthier

You might want to file this under the category of ‘things every one already knows’ but now there’s scientific proof that sharing your life with a dog can help make you healthier. The Mayo Clinic just published a study by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) showing research that “active people generally live longer and are at less risk for serious health problems like heart disease, type 2 diabetes, obesity, and some cancers.” [source]

The study involved 1,769 people between the ages of 25 and 64 who were living in the Czech Republic city of Brno. “The participants had healthy hearts, and provided information including their BMI, diet, physical activity levels, whether they smoked, blood pressure, cholesterol and fasting blood sugar level. Of the total, around 42 percent owned a pet: 24 percent owned a dog, while 17.9 percent another type of animal. The team used the American Heart Association heart score system test, which looks at seven changeable risk factors of cardiovascular health, to rate the participants. These include blood pressure, cholesterol, blood sugar, exercise, diet, weight, and smoking.” [source]

According to study co-author Andrea Maugeri, a researcher with the International Clinical Research Center at St. Anne’s University Hospital in Brno and Italy’s University of Catania, “dog owners were more likely to exercise, have an ideal diet and blood glucose level than those who didn’t. In general, people who owned any pet were more likely to report more physical activity, better diet and blood sugar at ideal level.” [source]

Dog owners were more likely to exercise, have an ideal diet and blood glucose level than those who didn’t.

Dog Ownership and Cardiovascular Health: Results From the Kardiovize 2030 Project (Abstract)

Objective
To investigate the association of pet ownership, and specifically dog ownership, with cardiovascular diseases (CVD) risk factors and cardiovascular health (CVH) in the Kardiovize Brno 2030 study, a randomly selected prospective cohort in Central Europe.

Patients and Methods
We included 1769 subjects (aged from 25 to 64 years; 44.3% males) with no history of CVD who were recruited from January 1, 2013, to December 19, 2014. We compared sociodemographic characteristics, CVD risk factors, CVH metrics (ie, body mass index, healthy diet, physical activity level, smoking status, blood pressure, fasting glucose, and total cholesterol), and score between pet owners and non-pet owners or dog owners and several other subgroups.

Results
Approximately 42% of subjects owned any type of pet: 24.3% owned a dog and 17.9% owned another animal. Pet owners, and specifically dog owners, were more likely to report physical activity, diet, and blood glucose at ideal level, and smoking at poor level, which resulted in higher CVH score than non-pet owners (median, 10; interquartile range = 3 vs median, 9; interquartile range = 3; P=0.006). Compared with owners of other pets, dog owners were more likely to report physical activity and diet at ideal level. The comparison of dog owners with non-dog owners yielded similar results. After adjustment for covariates, dog owners exhibited higher CVH scores than non-pet owners (?=0.342; SE=0.122; P=0.005), other pet-owners (?=0.309; SE=0.151; P=0.041), and non-dog owners (?=0.341; SE=0.117; P=0.004).

Conclusion
Except for smoking, dog owners were more likely to achieve recommended level of behavioral CVH metrics (physical activity and diet) than non-dog owners, which translated into better CVH.


According to Mayo Clinic oncologist Dr. Edward Cregan, there is overwhelming data that when you hold a cat, when you groom a horse, when you pet a dog, there is a surge of feel-good hormones that we can measure – prolactin, oxytocin, and dopamine. says owning a pet also boosts your immune system, that your immune system becomes more robust, more infection-fighting when you have that reason to live in your life. Pets have other health benefits too, the CDC says. They may lower blood pressure, cholesterol, triglycerides, and feelings of loneliness. You don’t have to have a dog or a cat. Any animal that depends on you – even a fish – could make a good pet. Pets give you a reason to get up and get moving. Dr. Cregan has a saying; it’s “get pets, not pills” because pets can help improve your mental and physical health.

Owners of any pet scored higher than those who didn’t own a pet, but dog owners scored higher than both. Dog owners were more likely to report sufficient physical activity, a better diet and good glucose levels than the rest of the group. They were also, on average, less educated and more likely to smoke. The authors do not conclude that owning a dog by itself assures protection against cardiovascular disease. Instead, the physical activity that dog ownership requires may be the key. [source]



You don’t have to have a dog or a cat. Any animal that depends on you – even a fish – could make a good pet. Pets give you a reason to get up and get moving.
“Get pets, not pills!” — Dr. Edward Cregan

American Heart Association - My Life Check

WANT TO SEE HOW HEALTHY YOUR HEART IS?

Take a look at My Life Check® from The American Heart Association. It is a health assessment and improvement tool that encourages you to take actions and form habits to move toward ideal heart health. Moving toward ideal heart health is also associated with lower risk for cancer, diabetes, depression and improved cognitive function.

How it works: You complete an assessment, get a Heart Health Score with recommendations to make improvements, and track your progress. The tool works on desktop and mobile devices. Check it out at https://mlc.heart.org/#/sign_up



RESOURCES
Owning a Dog Could Boost Heart Health, Say Scientists [newsweek]
Dog Owners May Have Healthier Hearts [nytimes]
Owning a dog can help your heart, study finds [goodmorningamerica]
Dog Ownership and Cardiovascular Health: Results From the Kardiovize 2030 Project [mcpiqojournal]
The Human-Canine Bond: A Heart’s Best Friend [mcpiqojournal]


Emergency Preparedness For Pets