Why having a dog pet is heart-healthy?

That's because their pooch makes them happy.

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Pets are good for your heart health, suggests a new study by the Dr. Francisco Lopez-Jimenez, a Mayo Clinic cardiologist. Especially, owning a dog make the owner happy because dogs are more than just mood boosters.

The study found that people who have dogs are more likely to exercise regularly. In addition, they tend to eat a healthy diet and have better sugar levels in their blood.

Dr. Lopez-Jimenez said, “What we found was that those who own a pet, particularly a dog, were healthier from the cardiovascular standpoint.”

Exercise improves heart health since it encourages you to keep up a healthy weight and controls glucose. Overall, the owners tend to have a better lifestyle than those who did not own an animal.

Dr. Lopez-Jimenez said, “I have a German shorthair retriever named Choco. He will be nagging me until we go out — maybe for a short walk, maybe throwing him balls. But what I realize is that anything that I do with my dog will imply physical activity.”

“Dogs almost universally will have those traits of loyalty, love, cheerful attitude, living in the moment, and expressing affection. Dogs almost universally will have those traits of loyalty, love, cheerful attitude, living in the moment, and expressing affection.”

The study looked at 1,769 subjects with no history of heart disease and scored them based on Life’s Simple 7 ideal health behaviors and factors, as outlined by the American Heart Association: body mass index, diet, physical activity, smoking status, blood pressure, blood glucose, and total cholesterol.

The health scores of pet owners were then compared to those who did not own pets. Then it compared dog owners to other pet owners and those who did not own pets.

Andrea Maugeri, Ph.D., a researcher with the International Clinical Research Center at St. Anne’s University Hospital in Brno and the University of Catania in Catania, Italy said, “In general, people who owned any pet were more likely to report more physical activity, better diet and blood sugar at ideal level. The greatest benefits from having a pet were for those who owned a dog, independent of their age, sex and education level.”

“The study demonstrates an association between dog ownership and heart health, which is in line with the American Heart Association’s scientific statement on the benefits of owning a dog in terms of physical activity, engagement, and reduction of cardiovascular disease risk.”

“The study findings support the idea that people could adopt, rescue or purchase a pet as a potential strategy to improve their cardiovascular health as long as pet ownership led them to a more physically active lifestyle.”

The results are published in Mayo Clinic Proceedings: Innovations, Quality & Outcomes.

Additional authors on this paper are Jose Medina Inojosa, M.D., Mayo Clinic and the International Clinic Research Center; Martina Barchitta, Ph.D., University of Catania; Antonella Agodi, Ph.D., University of Catania; and Manlio Vinciguerra, Ph.D., St. Anne’s University Hospital.