With millions suffering from heart disease across the country, it's natural that a growing number of people are watching what they eat and choosing an active lifestyle. However, a new study suggests that having a pet, particularly a dog, is an often overlooked remedy for symptoms that signal heart disease.
Stress, high blood pressure and diabetes are often early warning indicators of heart disease, but having a dog can alleviate these problems. Many studies in the past have shown the positive effect that simply petting a dog can have on its owner. The blood pressure drops, stress dissipates and the person's outlook improves. Men with dogs have been shown to have lower bad cholesterol levels when compared with men who are not pet owners.
Dog owners may even be fitter than their non pet owning counterparts. That's probably because pet owners walk their dogs or take them to the park to play. The result is often weight loss, and all of the benefits that go with it like lower cholesterol.
Pets are wonderful emotional support as well. People who own pets are less prone to depression. Some of that has to do with the fact that pets make wonderful companions. On the other hand, getting out and about with a dog is also a fantastic way to make social connections with other humans. It's easy to strike up a conversation over dogs, and more than one lifelong friendship has been formed in this manner.
Pets may be especially beneficial to young people. Babies born into a home with pets, or a home that acquires pets shortly after the baby's birth, typically have fewer issues with allergies and may be less prone to becoming asthmatic. Even in the first year of life, children may feel the positive effects of having pets. Studies have demonstrated that infants living with pets generally have fewer colds and ear infections than infants living in a pet free environment.
Sharing a life with a furry companion has endless benefits for the owner and the animal. It's a rich relationship that pays dividends well into the future.
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Dr. Kate Gerber & Dr. John Gerber