Valentine’s Day of course is an affair of the heart. It is usually celebrated with flowers, chocolate or a lovely dinner out with your special Valentine.

We hope you include your four-legged heartthrob in the celebrations too. Shower them with their favorite treats and a good long walk. Then let them settle down to some special time with you. That is the description of a dream come true for your dogs.

When thinking of matters of the heart, there is a growing body of evidence that having a dog can quite literally improve your heart health. We all know that your fur-baby brings you more warmth, joy and love into your life than you ever thought possible. But can they really help your overall heart health?

Studies have shown that pet owners, especially dogs have better cardiovascular health than non-pet owners. Some of that is of course due to being more active. You know that Fido will not be a happy camper unless you get out and walk with him. Right? It has been proven that even a twenty-minute walk every day can improve your heart health.

“The 12-year study published online Nov. 17, 2017, by Scientific Reports, included over 3.4 million Swedish adults ages 40 to 80. Using data from their national health sources and dog ownership registries, researchers found that dog owners had a lower risk of death due to heart disease.”

People who lived alone and especially seniors benefited the most. The study revealed that “Single dog owners had an 11% lower risk of having a heart attack and a 33% lower risk of dying during the study compared with single people who didn’t own dogs”. They concluded that “Dogs may ease stress, loneliness, and depression and inspire people to be more active and socially connected — all things that seem to foster heart health”. The health benefits for seniors who have pets have been shown to offer an improved overall sense of well-being.

We dog lovers, know very well the calming effect of simply petting our dogs. An Australian study of 199 patients who were dealing with mental health conditions such as depression, anxiety, or post-traumatic stress disorder found that 94% reported a “reduction of anxiety through tactile stimulation” thanks to a psychiatric assistance dog (PAD).

In other words, petting your dog calms you down and that calming effect actually lowers your blood pressure at the same time.

According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, adults need at least 150 minutes a week of moderate-intensity aerobic activity for good health. Not only will your dog love you with all its heart when you include them in your routine, but you will also reap the reward of weight control, improved cardiorespiratory fitness and muscular strength. Plus, reduced risk of chronic diseases and killers such as heart disease, stroke, cancer, and diabetes. How is that for a payoff! All because you have a dog that you love.

Even the American Heart Association has chimed in with some tips on how you and your dog can improve your heart health.

Here is a great article about shelters that have set up a Seniors for Seniors program.

There is even some evidence that your triglyceride levels are decreased by owning a dog. There was a large study that questioned how triglyceride levels were different between pet owners and non-pet owners. All other factors like diet, smoking or body mass index were taken out of the equation and still pet owners scored lower than non-pet owners.