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In the News: Researchers Add Heart Health to the Benefits of Owning a Pet

| 2/15/2012 12:29:06 PM

J.PattonAfter spending my Valentine’s Day enjoying the Westminster Dog Show, I was thrilled to see this good news about my favorite furry friends this morning: researchers have found yet another item to add to the list of benefits of owning a pet.

The study, published in the American Journal of Cardiology, found that owning a pet is a great health move for people with chronic diseases. Having Fido by your side is linked with the heart’s capability to adapt to situations, such as a faster heartbeat during a stressful time period. Those who did not have a pet had a less adaptable heartbeat, which puts strain on one of the most important organs in the body.

In 2008, a study presented at the American Stroke Association’s International Stroke Conference had a similar theme. Researchers found that cat owners were less likely to die of a heart attack or other cardiovascular disease when compared with people who had never owned a cat.

Researchers are finding evidence that welcoming furry friends into your home is good for your health.
Photo by Claudio Matsuoka/Courtesy

The ticker isn’t the only part of you that may benefit if you become a proud pet owner. A 2011 study found that the emotional benefits of pet ownership are similar to those of human friendship. The psychologists at Miami University and St. Louis University discovered that pet owners demonstrated less lonely tendencies and higher self-esteem. They also enjoyed greater physical fitness levels and exercised more, probably because dogs like to be walked.

If you’re thinking about adding a pet to your family, check out The Shelter Pet Project's website. It’s a great place to start in the search for your new best friend.  

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