August 26, 2019
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Owning a dog tied to positive CV health metrics

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The benefits of owning a dog go beyond celebrating National Dog Day on Aug. 26: Patients who owned a dog were more likely to achieve recommended levels of behavioral CV metrics including diet and physical activity compared with those who did not own dogs, according to a study published in Mayo Clinic Proceedings: Innovations, Quality and Outcomes.

“In general, people who owned any pet were more likely to report more physical activity, better diet and blood sugar at ideal level,” Andrea Maugeri, PhD, researcher at the International Clinical Research Center at St. Anne’s University Hospital in Brno, Czechia, said in a press release. “The greatest benefits from having a pet were from those who owned a dog independent of their age, sex and education level.”

Pet ownership

Researchers analyzed data from 1,769 participants (44% men) from the Kardiovize Brno 2030 cohort aged 25 to 64 years who were free from previous or current CVD. All participants underwent baseline examinations between Jan. 1, 2013 and Dec. 19, 2014, with follow-up examinations to be completed every 5 years until 2030.

Comprehensive interviews were conducted to collect information on behaviors including diet, physical activity and smoking status, demographic and socioeconomic status, and personal history of diseases and medications. Patients completed a questionnaire regarding their physical activity and 24-hour recall to assess their diets. Anthropometric measurements and physical examinations were also performed.

The interviews also included a question about pet ownership. Researchers compared dog owners with non-dog owners, non-pet owners and other pet owners, and also compared pet owners and non-pet owners.

CV health scores were calculated with the American Heart Association’s Life’s Simple 7, which include healthy diet, BMI, smoking status, physical activity level, blood glucose, BP and total cholesterol.

Among the cohort, 42% owned any type of pet, 24.3% owned a dog exclusively or a dog and another animal and 17.9% owned another animal.

Ideal levels of CV health

People who owned pets, specifically dogs, were more likely to report ideal levels of diet, physical activity and blood glucose and poor levels of smoking, which contributed to higher CV health scores compared with participants who did not own pets (median score = 10 vs. 9; P = .006). Those who owned dogs were more likely to report ideal levels of diet and physical activity compared with those who owned other pets. Similar results were observed when dog owners were compared with non-dog owners.

After adjusting for covariates, higher CV health scores were seen for dog owners compared with other pet owners ( = 0.309; standard error = 0.151; P = .041), non-pet owners ( = 0.342; standard error = 0.122; P = .005) and non-dog owners ( = 0.341; standard error = 0.117; P = .004).

“Experimental studies will help to determine if pet ownership fosters better CV [health] and its components or if the owning a dog is only a marker of healthier lifestyle,” Maugeri and colleagues wrote. – by Darlene Dobkowski

Disclosures: The authors report no relevant financial disclosures.