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Canine MD: Six Ways Your Dog Can Save Your Heart

By James Jacobson and Kristine Chandler Madera

Science has finally caught up with what dog lovers have known for years—that having a dog is great for your health. Here are six ways science has proven that living with a dog promotes better heart health.

Decreased cholesterol and triglycerides. Lower cholesterol and triglycerides reduces the risk of cardiovascular disease. Results of a three-year study of over 5,700 people showed that those who lived with pets, including dogs, had lower blood pressure and triglyceride and cholesterol levels than did non-pet-owners, even after accounting for additional exercise, smoking, diet, weight, and socioeconomic profile.

Lowered blood pressure. Women undergoing stress tests have lower blood pressure in the presence of dog than they have in the presence of a friend. The simple act of petting your dog causes your blood pressure to drop. What’s more, the lowered blood pressure stays in effect even when the dog is no longer present.

Improved chance of surviving a heart attack. A study conducted by the US Department of Health concluded that 28% of heart patients with pets, including dogs, survived serious heart attacks, compared with only 6% of patients who did not have a pet, even after accounting for factors such as the severity of heart disease.

Longer life-expectancy after a heart attack. A study published in the American Journal of Cardiology found that men who had a dog were six times more likely to be alive one year after a heart attack than men without a dog. The presence of a pet affected survival rate even more than having a spouse or friends.

Reduced stress. A study by State University of New York at Buffalo of stockbrokers who had dogs or cats in their offices had smaller increases in blood pressure when they had to carry out stressful tasks than those who did not have a pet present.

Increased exercise. One study showed that when people get a dog, they increase their walking time fivefold—from an average of one hour to five hours. Five hours of walking per week has a benefit equal to giving up smoking.

So, the secret to a healthy heart may be trading in that hotdog for a hot-looking Dachshund—or Great Dane or Boxer.

See Also:

Bow Wow Bliss: Five Ways to Meditate with Your Dog
Meditation is as simple as a walk in the dog park. Here are five ways to get started on a non-dogmatic meditation practice.

Golden Years: Nine Ways a Dog Boosts Your Health
What if there was a simple way to reduce stress, prolong and improve the quality of your life, banish the blues, and best of all, decrease the number of doctor visits? There is! Get a dog. Here are nine ways that having a dog can boost your health.

Canine MD: Eight Ways a Dog Improves Your Child’s Well-Being
Some of our favorite childhood memories involve dogs. But did you know that warm feeling is based in good science? Here are eight ways a dog improves your child’s health and well-being.

Active Compassion in Times of Crisis: How Your Dog Can Help
People have a special connection with their pets. This sacred bond of unconditional love is a natural starting place for healing after tragedy, for the victims and for the rest of us, too.

Dogs - Man's Best Friend
Owning a dog can be a positive, enjoyable experience for the entire family. Keep in mind however, that the decision to own a dog is an important one that should not be taken lightly.

If You Want a Friend, Get a Dog!
Dogs as pets date back at least as far as the days of Pompeii, where the remains of a dog stretched out next to a little boy were recovered from the rubble at Pompeii.

James Jacobson and Kristine Chandler Madera are authors of How to Meditate with Your Dog: An Introduction to Meditation for Dog Lovers, which presents a non-dogmatic approach to meditation. To fetch a free chapter from the book (chapter 3 “The Three Un-Dogmas”) and the introduction from the audiobook go to http://www.DogMeditation.com .

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