We love our pets, and they love us back, unconditionally.
But did you know that it has been scientifically proven that pets improve our heart health?
As it turns out, the benefits of living with pets extend far beyond the emotional. In fact, interacting with companion animals lowers blood pressure and cholesterol.What is the science behind pets and heart health? How does living with a pet keep your heart healthy?
Dogs and Heart Health
The American Heart Association tells us that living with pets improves heart health. For example:
- Dog owners were 65% less likely to die after a heart attack than non–dog owners.
- Dog owners had a 31% lower risk of dying from heart disease.
- Dog owners generally had a 24% reduced risk of mortality. They live longer than non–dog owners.
- Dogs improve mood and lower blood pressure. One study showed that dog owners with pre- to mild hypertension had lower systolic and diastolic blood pressure.
- A study of 600 patients with coronary artery disease showed that dog owners had a lower risk of the disease.
Some of these benefits are a result of the increased physical activity that comes with living with animals, especially dogs.
Dogs Keep Us Moving
Dogs need to walk and run, and one of the top reasons why living with dogs improves your health is that we move more when we live with dogs. Those daily walks are great for dogs and for humans.
Less than 5% of adults meet the recommended weekly level of physical activity, but dog owners walk, on average, one hour more per week. In fact, the American Heart Association reports that dog parents are 34% more likely to walk the recommended 150 minutes per week.
At least one study showed that dog owners have lower rates of obesity.
Dog owners who walk their dogs also reduce their risk of diabetes and other chronic conditions.
Dogs Make Us Feel Less Stressed
The love that we share with dogs suppresses the stress hormones and decreases our blood pressure. Some studies have shown that just petting a dog brings the blood pressure down.
When people do experience stressful events, pet parents recover faster.
Walking with dogs also makes us more social and helps overcome social isolation. This can benefit people who have heart disease or who have survived strokes.
Cats Help, Too
Don’t forget the kitties! Living with cats is good for our emotional and physical health. Studies have shown that:
- Owning a cat makes you more likely to be alive one year after a heart attack.
- Cat owners had a decreased risk for death from heart attacks and other cardiovascular diseases.
The Human-Animal Bond Research Institute (HABRI) has also collected evidence on the connection between heart health and pets. The organization has an infographic that compiles some of the top benefits of pet ownership for healthy hearts.
The Power of the Purr
Did you know that cats’ purring is a healing vibration? This article in Science World reports that purring has a vibration between 25 and 150 Hertz. These vibrations may stimulate muscles and promote bone healing in cats — and I wouldn’t be surprised if they helped to heal us, too.
Better Living with Pets
Clearly, living with pets has great benefits for our hearts, bodies, and beyond. That’s why we think it’s so important to preserve the important bonds between pets and people.
Everyone deserves to have this kind of healing love in their lives, so we can live happier, healthier lives together.