For over 11,000 years, dogs have been helping humans thrive. From providing protection and herding livestock to providing meaningful companionship, our furry friends have made our lives easier, happier and more fulfilling – and they’re making our hearts healthier too!
The Heart-Healthy Benefits of Dog Ownership
Recent research showed that having a dog in your life is associated with an overall 24% reduction in mortality as well as a 33% lower risk of death amongst heart attack survivors – specifically, those who live alone. That means that simply having a furry family member means you have a better chance of living longer, even if you have suffered a heart attack in the past.
But what is it exactly about dogs that have such a good impact on our health? Let’s take a look at some interesting, science-based facts:
- Dog owners are more likely to take regular walks, reducing their risks of heart disease, heart attack, stroke, and diabetes.
- They are more likely to be active, reach fitness goals and reduce their weight to healthy levels. In fact, dog parents are 34% more likely to achieve the recommended 150 minutes of exercise per week needed to support heart health.
- Dogs provide essential social support and companionship, creating purpose and meaning in our lives which helps fight depression, stress and loneliness. They give owners a reason to live.
- Seeing, touching and interacting positively with a pooch has been shown to reduce blood pressure, suppress cortisol levels and foster positive feelings of joy, nurturing and happiness. Dogs have a calming effect, and owners tend to experience less cardiovascular reactivity during stressful periods (reduced increase in blood pressure that decreases to healthy levels faster) than non-dog owners.
- Dogs give us the ability to form social bonds with others, helping to ease people out of situations of social isolation.
- Studies have shown that owning a dog also lowers cholesterol and triglyceride levels, reducing heart disease risks.
Should You Adopt a Dog for Heart Health?
Of course, you shouldn’t just adopt a dog to boost your heart health! Adopting any animal is a big commitment, and it’s important to consider your ability to care for an animal through their lifetime, including your ability to provide a pet with the exercise, veterinary care and love it needs to thrive.
In order for you to get the full health benefits of owning a pet, both their needs and yours have to be met – after all, it is about adding a new member to your family.
However, if you are an animal lover and have the time and means to care for a pet, then the above health benefits are just one more positive thing about pet ownership! By committing to a healthier life, adopting a dog can be a wonderful way of helping you reach your goals – and your furry friend will help you stay motivated, keep you moving and add be your best friend for life.
At DefibsPlus, we’re passionate about helping people live heart-healthy lives and preventing unnecessary, tragic deaths from sudden cardiac arrest (SCA). We’re advocates for placing AEDs in every public space, shopping centre, workplace, gym and school so that bystanders are empowered to act when SCA strikes – and we have a generous subsidy in place to help make this investment more affordable. With over 75% of SCAs happening out of hospitals in our homes and workplaces, we all need to work together to save lives.