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Dog ownership good for heart health: study

Photo: SeventyFour/iStockphoto

Brno, Czech Republic — Your dog may be your heart’s best friend, a team of European researchers say, citing findings from their recent study that suggest owning a pooch helps promote cardiovascular health and lower the risk of related diseases.

The researchers looked at nearly 1,800 adults with no history of cardiovascular disease from January 2013 to December 2014 to establish baseline health and socioeconomic data. Pet owners, dog-only owners and participants without pets were compared using sociodemographic characteristics, cardiovascular disease risk factors and seven heart health metrics – body mass index, healthy diet, physical activity level, smoking status, blood pressure, fasting glucose and total cholesterol – outlined by the American Heart Association.

In a 2019 follow-up, dog owners outpaced the other two groups in percentage of participants with “ideal” metrics in five of the seven categories, including fasting glucose (84.7% vs. 82.1% for other pet owners and 80.1% for participants without pets), physical activity (67.2% vs. 54.7% and 47.7%) and BMI (50.1% vs. 49.2% and 47.3%).

“The greatest benefits from having a pet were for those who owned a dog,” study co-author Andrea Maugeri, a researcher at the International Clinical Research Center at St. Anne’s University Hospital in Brno and the University of Catania in Catania, Italy, said in an Aug. 23 press release. “In general, people who owned any pet were more likely to report more physical activity, better diet and blood sugar at ideal level.”

The study was published in the September issue of the journal Mayo Clinic Proceedings: Innovations, Quality & Outcomes.

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