By Doug Morin
Executive Director of CV Volunteers In Medicine
The UCLA Health People Animal Connection (PAC) Program has found that owning a pet can benefit the health of your heart in many ways. A research study they conducted examined how a group of patients in the cardiac intensive care unit responded to the presence of a dog. The results showed that the hormone epinephrine, which is responsible for increasing stress levels in humans, was lowered significantly in patients who interacted with the dogs, and many patients also had a decrease in both heart and lung pressure after interacting with dogs. And a study from the University of Missouri-Columbia found that people who walked twenty minutes a day, five days a week with their dog, lost an average of fourteen pounds in a year.
Other studies have shown that people who own a pet are less likely to die of a heart attack than those who don’t. Owning a pet leads to improved fitness, and the research has shown that owners who take their dog out for a regular walk will walk an average of 19 additional minutes compared with people who do not have a dog. Among the health benefits of having a pet include reduced risk of allergies, asthma and eczema, lower blood pressure, a stronger heart, improved fitness, and greater calm for Alzheimer’s patients. Simply petting an animal can cause blood pressure to drop. A study was done where hypertensive stock brokers were instructed to either pet an animal or take a hypertensive drug to help quell their mental stress. Those who adopted an animal had a better reduction in blood pressure than those who took a hypertensive drug.
Additionally, research has shown that oxytocin levels increase after interactions between an owner and his or her pet. Oxytocin is one of the chemicals responsible for reducing anxiety, calming people down According to sharecare.com, pet owners, when coping with stress, are better off with a pet by their side because having a spouse or friend nearby during a stressful situation can make the stress worse.
According to AnimalPlanet.com, the truth about cats versus dogs is a hot-button debate that rages on, even if cat lovers know that their darlings swept to victory long ago. For cats, it’s no contest – their inspired playfulness and independent spirit are the secret envy of some humans, many of whom wish they could spend their own days batting at a catnip mouse and napping in the sun rather than tapping a computer keyboard. Even some die-hard dog lovers have inched toward the light of the feline side, drawn by their low-maintenance lifestyle and excellence as lap decorations.
Why do cats best dogs? For one thing, most dogs always vocalize their moods. A cat will keep it to itself. Upset, happy, excited or just talkative, dogs bark. Loudly. Cat toys tend to be hugged, carried and carefully hidden in beds or baskets, while a dog’s playthings are shredded.