Find out how having a pet, especially a dog, can benefit your health.
By motivating you to get moving, pets—especially dogs—may help you lead a healthier lifestyle. Research indicates that having
a pet may lower blood pressure, improve cholesterol levels, increase survival rates after a heart attack and reduce risk of
heart disease. For example, one study found cat owners had a 37 percent lower risk of heart attack. Reasons for the healing
power of pets may include stress relief and social support—benefits that have been associated with companion animals ranging
from goats to snakes. Yet the main benefit seems to be from exercise via dog walking. Dog owners who walk their dog get up to
50 percent more exercise than people without dogs or those who don’t walk them. At Tufts, we developed Project
PAWS—Partnering with Pets to Achieve Wellness—which encourages overweight kids to get active with their pets.
Dr. Deborah Linder, DVM, DACVN, heads the Tufts Obesity Clinic for Animals, one of the nation’s first pet-obesity