Medically reviewed by
Anil Om, MD
McLeod Cardiology Associates
This is no joke. A number of studies show that dog ownership is associated with better cardiovascular outcomes and longer life, especially for former heart attack or stroke patients.
“We’re not looking at cause and effect here,” says McLeod Cardiologist Dr. Anil Om. “Yet, the association appears real. Having a dog cuts the risk of heart attack or stroke by 31%, compared to the non-dog owners. It can sound a bit silly but there is a connection between having a dog and the major heart risk factors as outlined by the American Heart Association: blood glucose, blood pressure, body mass index, cholesterol, diet, physical activity and smoking.”
HOW DOES IT WORK?
When studying large populations and accounting for factors, such as age, other health issues, marital status, children in the home and income,
WHAT ABOUT CATS?
The benefits do not seem to apply to owners of other pets. However, a spouse does show some positive effect – just not as much as a dog.
ACTION YOU CAN TAKE
To paraphrase one researcher, people think they are doing a favor for the dog when they get one, but adopting a dog may be a much a service to your own health as the dog.
You don’t need to spend hundreds of dollars on a dog. Check with your local rescue shelter. Look a few of those dogs in the eye – and see what happens.
Find a Cardiologist near you.
Sources include: McLeod Health, Mayo Clinic Proceedings, Circulation: Cardiovascular Quality & Outcomes, Get Healthy-Get a Dog: Harvard Medical School