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Dogs Can Heal Your Heart

MSNBC November 15, 2005

A study has shown that visits from therapeutic dogs can lower anxiety, stress, and heart and lung pressure among heart failure patients.
Researchers studied nearly 80 heart failure patients, with an average age of 57, who got either a visit from a volunteer, a volunteer plus a dog, or no visit at all.

Reduces Anxiety and Stress

Anxiety, as measured by a standard rating scale, dropped 24 percent for those visited by the dog and volunteer team, 10 percent for those visited by just a volunteer, and not at all for those who received no visit.

Epinephrine, a stress hormone, dropped 17 percent in patients visited by a person and a dog, and 2 percent in those visited just by a person -- but the levels actually rose about 7 percent in the unvisited group.

Reduces Heart and Lung Pressure

Heart pressure dropped 10 percent after the visit by the volunteer and dog, increased 3 percent for those visited by a volunteer, and increased 5 percent for those who got no visit.

Lung pressure when down by 5 percent among those visited by a dog and a volunteer, while it rose in the other two groups.

The researchers hope that the study will show that pet therapy is a credible addition to patient care.

Dr. Mercola's Comment:

Having a pet can bring great value to your life, both spiritually in terms of unconditional acceptance and physically when it comes to having an always-willing-and-able exercise partner. It's not surprising that the benefits they bring are measurable and quantifiable.

Other studies have also shown that owning a dog can play a significant role in the survival rates of heart attack victims.

In one study, researchers discovered that the patients who were alive one year after the heart attack were more likely to own a dog. Another study, on the psychological factors contributing to the recovery rates for heart-disease patients, ranked pet ownership on top in terms of determining the patient's likelihood of long-term survival.

Studies have also shown how the calming and soothing presence of dogs helps with keeping your blood pressure levels in the healthy range.

The State University of New York at Buffalo conducted a study involving 24 stockbrokers taking medication for high blood pressure. The researchers found that adding a dog or cat to the stockbroker's lives helped stabilize and reduce their stress levels.

Related Articles:

Why Dark Chocolate is So Toxic... For Your Dog

Keeping Your Dog Healthy with Natural Treats: Chewing For Your Pet's Better Health

Structural Joint Problems in Dogs

For more health-related articles about dogs, visit

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