We all love our pets but did you know they can actually improve your health? A study done by National Health and Nutrition Examination Survey (NHANES) between 1988 to 1994 showed that pets do have an improvement on your health.
Older women over age 50 are less likely to die of cardiovascular diseases like stroke if they have a pet, indicates a new study.
Researchers examined data from the National Health and Nutrition Examination Survey (NHANES) between 1988 to 1994 and found that US women over age 50 and generally healthy were less vulnerable to die of stroke if they had a cat or dog.
An increased physical activity is required for dog owners, but owning a cat was still tied to a lower risk of death from stroke.
To reach their findings, the researchers studied almost 4,000 adults without major illnesses who participated in the NHANES and reported their pet ownership as well as detailed about their physical activity, weight and height, and health risk factors such as cigarette smoking.
Of the participants, more than half were overweight or obese, and around 35 percent owned a pet, mostly a dog.
As per the National Death Index data, as of 2006, 11 of every 1,000 non-pet owners had died of cardiovascular events, compared to about 7 of every 1,000 people who had a pet.
When it comes specifically to stroke, male pet owners were just as vulnerable to have died, when compared with female pet owners who were about 40 percent less likely to have died of stroke.
“Anecdotally, we believe that walking a dog is good for heart, reducing life pressure and blood pressure as well,” said senior author Jian Zhang of the Jiann-Ping Hsu College of Public Health at Georgia Southern University in the U.S.
“I strongly believe that putative benefits of keeping a dog have not yet fully translated into reality, and we found that pet owners did not walk pets, certainly, dogs, more often than others,” Zhang said. “This explains why owning a dog did not reduce CVD mortality among dog owners.”
According to Zhang, cat owners may have a personality that protects them from heart diseases, instead of cats having an impact on heart health. The findings of the study, he stressed, do not encourage people to own a pet.
“We are short of overall assessment of the associations of companion animals with human health, and our study should not be interpreted to encourage more people to own pets, either dog or cat,” Zhang said. “Pets are good, but have to be kept responsibly.”
Learn more about how pets can help your health.
Keep Gresham Animal Hospital in mind next time your dog needs a checkup, shots, vaccines, give us a call at 503.666.1600.