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Are Dogs Better For Your Health Than Cats?

Are Dogs Better For Your Health Than Cats?

As any pet lover can tell you, pets make you feel good. And in fact, studies have shown that pet owners tend to be healthier, in general, than those without a cuddly (or even not-so-cuddly) four-legged pal in their home. But one study suggests that the health benefits of owning a dog outweigh those of owning a cat.

A psychologist from Queen’s University, Belfast, said dog owners tended to have lower blood pressure and cholesterol. Writing in the British Journal of Health Psychology, she says that regular walks may partly explain the difference. Taking care of a dog can often leads to increases in physical activity and facilitates the development of social contacts, which may enhance both physiological and psychological human health.

As well as lower blood pressure and cholesterol, dog-owners suffer fewer minor ailments and serious medical problems. The precise reason for the benefits was not totally clear. The main hypothesis is that dogs’ directly promote our well-being by buffering us from stress, one of the major risk factors associated with ill-health.

However, cat owners, don’t feel left out! Researchers looked at nearly 4,500 adults and found that cat ownership was related to a 40 percent lower risk of suffering a fatal heart attack. The team speculated that having a cat may reduce stress and anxiety, and thus protect against cardiovascular disease.

Now I’m wondering, what about my hamster?

Read more: Dogs, General Health, Health, Humor & Inspiration, Pets, , , ,

By Melissa Breyer, Senior Editor, Healthy & Green Living

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Melissa Breyer

Melissa Breyer is a writer and editor with a background in sustainable living, specializing in food, science and design. She is the co-author of True Food (National Geographic) and has edited and written for regional and international books and periodicals, including The New York Times Magazine. Melissa lives in Brooklyn, NY.

130 comments

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8:22AM PDT on Jul 31, 2012

Many of the cats that have owned me enjoyed going for long walks when living on a 100 acre hobby farm and stuck with me along with the dogs. Some cats really enjoy a long and tranquil walk. People with a companion animal have many health benefits especially those living alone.

One person said "better wild and free". Certainly this pertains to wild animals and while there are some who think that no human should have a companion animal in their homes most of civilization has lived with companion animals from the dawn of time. These days responsible people take care of spaying/neutering and the veterinary care. Loving care brings love in return.

Teresa is often always weighing in with a caustic comment, generally pertaining to the evils of sex...this time its "Pets give you parasites." So do some humans...not to mention athletes foot, fungus and what not but we still seek out people for companionship and don't live our lives in a glass bubble. Look after basic needs such as veterinary care and there is less risk of parasites. Some find the negative in everything.

For most, be it cat or dog or other there is joy by the responsible and caring person/family involved.

7:21AM PDT on Jun 10, 2012

They are both wonderful for our health.

10:59AM PDT on Mar 16, 2012

Maybe, but I have always adopted cats without a home and I have always loved them, so there is not much room in my house for a dog.

1:58PM PDT on Mar 15, 2012

When I have both cats and dogs at once in my home or just the one I find that they are great to wake up to and easy to take care of.I would fine life very boring with-out them!!

11:00AM PDT on Mar 15, 2012

My cat is sensitive and comforting. I love her to bits!!

5:03AM PDT on Mar 15, 2012

Love this one: "Now I’m wondering, what about my hamster?"

5:58PM PDT on Sep 14, 2011

I'm also a person who can't type :)

5:57PM PDT on Sep 14, 2011

I love all animals but am a cat perosn through and through. I'm so glad that researchers say that having cats is good for your health, too. So are fishtanks and birds, etc...

As an animal lover, I'm a little disappointed at another dog vs cat article. Most of us don't care what the so-called experts have to say about our love for animals. All animals are wonderful.

5:15PM PDT on Aug 2, 2011

Thanks!!!

3:14PM PDT on Jun 29, 2011

i think both are good--whatever you have room for. i don't like the "real age" website because it keeps saying i have to get a dog. sorry, but i don't have room for one where i live. they're seriously going to tell me i'm going to die unless i get a dog? come on.

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Disclaimer: The views expressed above are solely those of the author and may not reflect those of
Care2, Inc., its employees or advertisers.

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