How Your Dog Helps Cholesterol

Dog owners tend to dote on their four-legged friends and can tell you their breed, temperament, tricks and how much they love the pet. However, they might not realize how having a dog benefits their heart health in many ways.

The top benefits of owning a dog, according to their owners, are companionship and affection. And, study after study has confirmed what many of us already suspected, not only do our dogs make our days feel brighter: they help health. Harvard Medical School performed an extensive study and saw that dog owners — regardless of diet, BMI or smoking — had lower triglycerides and cholesterol. Moreover, they believe that stroking your dog is so soothing it can lower your blood pressure; they call it the “pet effect.” Dog owners also experience smaller changes to their pulse and blood pressure during stressful situations. After a heart attack, dog owners have better recovery and survival rates.

Additionally, needing to walk the dog gives their owners more exercise than they otherwise would have. Dog owners are 54 percent more likely to “get their steps” and hit their recommended daily exercise. If you take your dog around your neighborhood, or if you bring your dog to a park, you are more likely to have social interactions that can help your mood and keep your day on track. The exercise may be why people who own dogs are less likely to be obese.

According to the American Heart Association, pet ownership, in general, is helpful for heart health, but dogs are better. In part, because of getting more exercise. Their statements are based on examining the results of previous studies. They are quick to stress that not enough research has been done to suggest you should adopt a pet purely for the sake of your heart. The results are not conclusive.

In essence, data suggest that there probably is an association between pet ownership and decreased cardiovascular risk,” Dr. Glenn Levine, who chaired the committee that studied the research, said. “What’s less clear is whether the act of adopting or acquiring a pet could lead to a reduction in cardiovascular risk in those with pre-existing disease.”

Pets are living creatures that need care and maintenance. Buying one for a health purpose when you have little interest in the animal won’t improve your life — or the animal’s. Dogs take work, and if you aren’t looking for a companion, it’s better to give them a miss! However, if you are already a pet owner, or interested in having one, Fido may boost your heart health.
January 24, 2020
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