Dogs can be great, cuddly, and fun companions. But our canine friends can do some amazing things, including improving our well-being. A new study, published in the journal Mayo Clinic Proceedings, shows that dogs can help their owners with their heart health, CNN reports.
This news is really cool, but it isn't surprising. Research has long shown that having a canine best friends can bring a lot of health benefits. Dogs can improve our mental and emotional health, protect us from harm, and even sniff out cancer. And research published in Preventing Chronic Disease, has shown that owning a dog leads to more physical activity. And it's that increased level of moving about that seemingly contributes to the most recent data.
This particular study examined the cardiovascular health and socioeconomic information of more than 2,000 people in Brno, Czech Republic, since 2013. The researchers plan on scheduling follow-ups and analyzing data until 2030, according to CNN. This year, in 2019, the researchers analyzed the latest follow-up data. They wanted to see how the participants, none of whom had a history of heart disease, fared regarding the American Heart Association's ideal health behaviors and factors, called "Life's Simple 7": body mass index (BMI), diet, physical activity, smoking status, blood pressure, blood glucose, and cholesterol. (It's important to note that BMI is often regarded as a flawed indicator of overall health.)
The researchers found that pet owners in general were more physically active and had healthier diets and more balanced blood sugar levels than non-pet owners. All that helps maintain cardiovascular health, but it can also help improve or prevent other medical conditions, like diabetes. So, it's possible that pets can help with even more areas of our health.
But even though all pet owners experienced better cardiovascular health, dog owners fared the best of all of them. Dr. Andrea Maugeri, PhD, a researcher with the International Clinical Research Center at St. Anne's University Hospital in Brno and the University of Catania in Catania, Italy, said in a press release about the study, "The greatest benefits from having a pet were for those who owned a dog, independent of their age, sex and education level."
Dr. Francisco Lopez-Jimenez, chair of the Division of Preventive Cardiology at the Mayo Clinic in Rochester, said in the press release that dog-owners may be more likely to take their dog for walks and play with them regularly, which may contribute to the reasons behind these findings. However, Lopez-Jimenez also pointed out to CNN that nearly a quarter (24%) of the pet-owners in the study owned dogs, so the results might not be completely representative.
Whatever the case, Maugeri said that these discoveries show that adopting or purchasing a pet is a potential strategy that cardiovascular patients can use to improve their heart health, as long as they increase their physical activity. If you're interested in learning more about purchasing a pet, this article by Bustle writer Jordan Bissell lists the best breeds to buy in your 20s and 30s. And if you want to explore the idea of adoption or rescue, then this article by Bustle writer JR Thorpe gives you 21 solid reasons why you should go for it.
Animals can bring really positive, healing vibes to our lives. They can make us feel happy, warm, and loved. And, as this research shows, they can also help us maintain our health or prevent certain health complications.