Owning a #Dog May Reduce the Risk of Heart Disease #animaltherapy

The American Heart Association released a surprising statement this month: Owning a dog is associated with a lower risk in heart disease, and maybe blood pressure, cholesterol levels, obesity and the response to stress.

Of course finding a correlation does not prove causation. But there is a mounting body of evidence that does point toward pet ownership being a good thing for people’s health. Enough so that even a very conservative cardiovascular health organization like the AHA is putting out press releases! We have long been advocates of animal therapy here at My Doctor Medical Group.

According to the AHA’s statement (http://circ NULL.ahajournals NULL.org/content/early/2013/05/09/CIR NULL.0b013e31829201e1 NULL.long), research shows that:Therapy Dog

  • Pet ownership is probably associated with a reduction in heart disease risk factors and increased survival among patients.
  • Dog ownership in particular may help reduce cardiovascular risk. People with dogs may engage in more physical activity because they walk them. In a study of more than 5,200 adults, dog owners engaged in more walking and physical activity than non-dog owners, and were 54 percent more likely to get the recommended level of physical activity.
  • Owning pets may be associated with lower blood pressure and cholesterol levels, and a lower incidence of obesity.
  • Pets can have a positive effect on the body’s reactions to stress.

While the statement pulled back in the end, saying “people shouldn’t adopt, rescue or buy a pet solely to reduce cardiovascular risk,” I think better advice would be “if you’re going to adopt, rescue or buy a pet, be sure to educate yourself and do it right.”

Here at My Doctor Medical Group, we are fortunate to have a pet therapy expert on staff: veterinarian Laurie Pearlstein DVM, whom we have asked to write a blog post on “Getting a Dog.”  We would like everyone hoping to acquire a new pet to consider important issues ahead of time:

  • What kind of dog?
  • From a shelter or a breeder?
  • Adult dog or puppy?
  • Pet insurance and animal health care
  • Borrow a dog vs. own a dog?

You can find Dr. Pearlstein’s article here: Key Questions to Ask Before Getting a Dog for Yourself or a Loved One.

 

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