We love them with all of our hearts, and now there’s reason to believe dogs are actually good for our hearts, too.

Over the past several years, there has been an increasing body of research exploring the human-animal bond and the benefits of pet ownership to our overall health and happiness. The latest findings published in the Mayo Clinic Proceedings provide further evidence of these benefits, showing that owning a dog may have a positive effect on one’s heart health.

The study compared the cardiovascular health scores of pet owners to those who did not own pets. Validating previous studies, it showed that people with pets were more physically active. This isn’t too surprising, as pets encourage us to move around, play and take walks. But the benefits go beyond increased exercise. Pet-owning participants were also more likely to report a better diet and an ideal blood sugar level. And those with dogs, specifically, reported the greatest benefits.

In addition to improved heart health, research from the Human Animal Bond Initiative (HABRI) has also shown that pets play a positive role in:

  • Healthy aging
  • Child health & development
  • Reducing social isolation and loneliness
  • Workplace wellness
  • Reducing PTSD symptom severity

And the list goes on! At this point, we’re starting to wonder if there’s anything our four-legged friends can’t do.