February 12, 2020 Cardiology Dogs

Dogs: Good for the Heart and Soul

A dog holds a rose in its mouth

Dogs: Good for the Heart and Soul

In addition to February being National Pet Dental Month, this month is also American Heart Month. Usually I write about canine or feline heart disease in February, but this year, I am going to take a different approach and talk about how your dog keeps your heart healthy.

According to the Centers for Disease Control, the leading cause of death in the United States is heart disease, killing more than 600,000 Americans every year. Recent studies show that getting a dog can help protect you from cardiovascular related mortality. We’ll look at a few of those findings in this blog post.

Get a dog, meet your exercise goal

The CDC recommends an exercise goal of 150 minutes per week for a heart healthy lifestyle. Research shows that dog owners are four times more likely to meet that goal than those without a dog. It’s no surprise that dog owners report “walking” as their most common physical activity, since time spent walking their pup counts toward their physical activity goal. Although this research comes from England, the exercise benefit of dog ownership is recognized in multiple countries, including the United States, Japan and Australia.

Get a dog, prevent a heart attack

The Swedish government records dog ownership alongside medical conditions in their residents. Using the information in this database, a 2017 study found dog owners to have a lower risk of developing cardiovascular disease, and those who live alone significantly benefited from the presence of a dog. The authors hypothesize the dog provided companionship, facilitated social interaction and exercise in people who live alone.

Get a dog, recover better from a heart attack

While dogs seem to decrease the risk of heart attacks, dog ownership also aids in recovery for those who’ve previously suffered from a heart attack or stroke, according to another study using the same Swedish government database. Dog owners were more likely to survive a cardiovascular event than those without a dog. Dog owners were also less likely to have another heart attack than those without dogs.

If you want to read more about life-saving dogs, read about AMC’s patient of the month, Willow, who was saved by the AMC Cardiology Team and in turn saved her owner’s life.

Tags: dogs, exercise, heart disease, Heart health, heart month,

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