Owning a dog could decrease your risk of developing heart disease.  That was the finding of a new study published on Circulation online.  Researchers found that pet ownership, especially dog ownership, is linked to reduced blood pressure, cholesterol levels, and development of obestity.

“It reaffirms the notion that having a dog is good for your heart, lowering your blood pressure, lowering the stress hormones in your body, and is a good thing to keep your heart healthy,” KTRH health expert Dr. Joe Galati says.

The study looked at more than 5,200 adults and found those that owned dogs were more active, an inevitable effect of owning a pet that requires frequent outings. 

“We would agree with that report,” confirms KTRH pet expert Dr. Brian Beale.  “Many studies in the past by many different groups have looked at the benefits of animals on human health.”

Almost 80 million American own a dog, and even more, 86.4 million, own at least one cat.  The impact of cats on the health of their owners is still being evaluated.

“The effect of having pets when you do have health problems is that it certainly benefits by lowering blood pressure and lowering overall stress levels,” said Dr. Beale.  “They have a relaxing effect on people, and this undoubtedly will lead to improvement in your health.”

He says some people not only live longer lives as the result of owning pets, but happier ones as well.