Cardiovascular Health Clinic Logo

Pets and Your Heart: How Your Furry Friends Keep You Healthy

May 01, 2024

Older couple walking their big, white dog down a path in a nice park while smiling at each other.

The Heart-Healthy Benefits of Pet Ownership

For pet lovers, it may come as no surprise that their beloved furry, feathered, or finned companions bring more than just joy and fellowship. There’s an intuitive understanding that the bond between humans and their pets goes beyond emotional support. Recent studies have shown an even more remarkable benefit: the impact pets have on our cardiovascular health and physical well-being.

From lowering blood pressure to reducing the risk of heart disease, the connection we share with our pets can be a key factor in our quest for a healthier heart, and at CardioVascular Health Clinic, we’re dedicated to finding better, innovative ways to improve heart health for Oklahomans across the state. Our team of experienced specialists believes the best cardiovascular solutions include whole-person wellness and compassionate care, and we’re committed to working with every patient to help them make the medical and lifestyle choices necessary–including the possibility of a pet!–for a long and healthy life. 

The Heart of the Matter: Physical Benefits of Pet Ownership

Owning a pet fills your home with joy and unconditional love. It also can help you lead a vibrant, heart-healthy lifestyle. Research has shown the many benefits of pet ownership, including a reduced risk of heart disease. Having a pet may be a great addition to your efforts to lead a healthy lifestyle and improve heart health.

Studies have consistently highlighted the role that pets—especially dogs—play in promoting physical activity. Dog owners in particular lead a more active lifestyle, thanks to regular walks or hikes and playtime with their canine companions. This increase in physical activity is not just good for your mental welfare but for your heart health as well, since the benefits of regular exercise include:

  • Contributes to maintaining a healthy weight.
  • Lowers blood pressure.
  • Reduces the overall risk of cardiovascular disease.

Independent of physical activity, pet companionship has also been shown to lower blood pressure—a key factor in heart health. The calming presence of a pet can soothe the nerves and reduce stress, resulting in measurable decreases in blood pressure and heart rate. Dog ownership has also been linked to improved survival rates after heart attacks. Survivors who have dogs tend to recover faster, with the supportive presence of their companions playing a significant role in their improved health outcomes.

The Calming Effect: Pets and Stress Reduction

Often it may feel like your life is moving at breakneck speed. Finding moments to slow down and relax can be a challenge, especially with everything else that may be going on around you. But for pet owners, the calming presence of companions can reduce stress levels and help us relax.

Studies have shown that interacting with pets can significantly lower levels of cortisol, the hormone associated with stress. This interaction doesn’t have to be elaborate or long. Just ten minutes of petting a dog or cat, or even watching fish swim in an aquarium, can induce a meditative state of mindfulness. Our thoughts slow, and frazzled nerves are soothed. The immediate sensory engagement with pets diverts our focus from stressors and allows us to be mindfully present.

The presence of a pet can also lead to increased levels of oxytocin, a hormone that promotes feelings of happiness, bonding, and relaxation. This is especially true in moments of direct interaction—such as cuddling or playing—which creates a positive feedback loop that reduces stress and raises our overall sense of contentment.

The Emotional Bond: How Pets Improve Mental Health

The companionship of a pet can bring comfort and joy and ease the stress of everyday life, but this emotional bond also plays a role in supporting mental health. Our friends—whether furry, feathered, or finned—become members of our support network and boost our psychological well-being in many ways, paving the way for better cardiovascular health.

A valued aspect of pet ownership is the sense of connectedness it brings. For those living alone or in situations where loneliness creeps in, a pet can be a constant friend—someone who’s always there to listen without judgment or expectation. Particularly for older adults, their presence helps ease feelings of isolation and loneliness, which are risk factors for mental health issues like depression and anxiety. 

The emotional bond we share with our pets is also a powerful force for mental health improvement. Caring for another living being provides a sense of purpose and routine, which bolsters mental health. The responsibility of feeding, grooming, and attending to a pet creates a structured daily routine that offers stability and a sense of accomplishment. Furthermore, pets give us unconditional love and acceptance. They accept us as we are—regardless of our performance, appearance, or social status. This unwavering support fosters self-esteem and can be particularly healing for those struggling with personal issues or mental health challenges

Companionship That Brings Joy: The Social Benefits of Pet Ownership

Pets do more than just fill our homes with love; they provide social opportunities and ways to make new connections. Dog parks, pet-friendly cafes, and even online forums are places where pet owners are drawn together by their shared love for their animal companions. 

Pets often serve as icebreakers and bridge gaps between individuals trying to make connections. When meeting someone for the first time, finding common ground can be difficult, but small talk with a fellow pet lover can ease the way. Swapping stories about beloved pets can immediately create a sense of camaraderie and connection without the awkwardness of initial introductions.

A walk through the neighborhood or park with your dog can lead to conversations with neighbors or potential new friends. Sharing your cat’s antics online or in a social media group can start a lively discussion. The social interactions facilitated by our pets provide opportunities for engaging with a wider community and expanding our social circle. 

These enriched social connections fostered by our pets also contribute to our heart health. Research suggests that strong social bonds can lead to lower stress levels and a reduced risk of heart disease. Our pets can play a key role in supporting cardiovascular health by helping us expand our social interactions and lead fuller lives.

Choosing the Right Pet for Your Heart

Choosing the perfect pet is all about finding the right match for your lifestyle, living space, and your health status. It’s important to find a pet that matches you and your preferences to be sure both you and your new companion thrive.

For those with active lifestyles, a dog might be the ideal partner for outdoor adventures and regular exercise—directly contributing to your cardiovascular health. Even if you prefer more leisurely walks, there are plenty of dogs better suited to a less active life that will still encourage you to get out for shorter or less vigorous walks.

On the other hand, individuals who are more sedentary or restricted in physical activities may find that indoor pets are more in line with their needs. The soothing presence of a cat or the tranquil watchfulness of fish provides cardiovascular benefits like stress reduction and calming companionship.

A key consideration in pet ownership is your living environment. Larger pets can have more energy and require more space. Smaller ones or aquatic pets may be better suited for compact living situations. Some choices are fish, birds, lizards, or rodents, in addition to cats and smaller dogs.

Ultimately, the right pet should fit seamlessly into your life—without causing you stress or increasing any health concerns. This way, they can contribute positively to your mental and physical welfare.

Comprehensive Heart Health from CardioVascular Health Clinic

For pet owners, the decision to share your life with an animal companion brings substantial benefits for both heart and mind. The right friend—furry or otherwise—not only fills our homes with joy but also supports our cardiovascular health in many ways. The presence of a pet in our lives can be a catalyst for better overall health and lead to more physical activity, reduced stress, enhanced social interactions, and improved mental health. These cherished relationships are more than animal companions, they nourish our hearts and our souls.

At CardioVascular Health Clinic, we strive to provide comprehensive cardiovascular services through innovative, cutting-edge interventional care, and that includes creative ways to incorporate better heart health into your everyday life. However, we also lead the country in minimally-invasive, image-guided procedures for a broad range of cardiovascular conditions. By combining these approaches, we can offer our patients personalized, integrative treatment plans that extend beyond our office so you can live your life to the fullest.

For the best in cardiovascular and interventional care, trust your heart’s health to CardioVascular Health Clinic and schedule an appointment today.

Patient Resources

We’re committed to timely, efficient, and affordable care.
Here is a collection of useful resources our new and existing patients need in one convenient location.
Please let us know if you need additional information or have any questions.


I’m about one month out and things are so much better. At my two week evaluation my symptom score had gone from a 27 to a 7, and I’m sure it’s even better now. That speaks volumes. Now that I’m post recovery, there is no incontinence, I go to the bathroom much less and there are no ED side effects like there are with other procedures. In regard to my quality of life, well, I don’t maintain my life based on my proximity to a bathroom anymore.

Blaine P., M.D.
Professional staff working in a beautiful facility with great doctors who sincerely care about their patients. Without Dr. Schmidt's skill, I would have needed heart bypass surgery instead of a stent. Follow-up has been thorough. I can't recommend them highly enough.
LeAnn H.

Dr. Jim Melton and all the staff are fantastic. He is an excellent surgeon and his team is GREAT!!!! I just had surgery at the surgery center, I have only great things to say about my experience. Without him I really don't think I would be here to write this. If you’re looking for a good cardiovascular team, they are a 5 star for sure.

Susie H.

Dr. Parsons and staff are amazing. He truly listened to me from the consult. Staff showed genuine care for my progress post procedure. I had my follow up appointment today so satisfied with results. Blake made me comfortable from the start. He is an activist for uterine fibroids treatment beyond the standard.

Tamara M.

Professional and caring staff. Dr. Smith is very knowledgeable and shows genuine concern for your personal health. I enjoyed the background music in the procedure room, it really adds to the relaxing atmosphere.

David L.

Dr. John Schrader is the most personable doctor we know. He stays on top of my dads health care and is genuinely concerned about his health. We never leave his office with questions. He answers them all. Even questions we don’t think of. Always professional but never cold or bad bedside manner. In our opinion he is THE BEST around.
Thank you Dr Schrader.

Kathy J.

I came to Dr. Warren by a self referral for mals when it took me 8yrs 50+ doctors and thousands of dollars spent on no answers. My first visit I was scared I was just going to be gaslighted just like the past however I was pleasantly shocked when Dr. Warren immediately believed me. She took the time to review many disk I had brought from past tests. She never once dismissed me and listened to ever word I had to say. She scheduled one last test to confirm the diagnosis then I was scheduled for surgery right away. Surgery was a success and I can’t thank her and her staff enough. Dr. Warren truly saved my life.

Angie W.

Dr. Garner literally saved my life 18 months ago and I've followed him to his new practice with Cardiovascular Health. He explains things so clearly, listens and is just a very nice person. His staff is great, too! I highly recommend!

D Watts

Some of the nicest staff that I have ever dealt with!! They have been so incredibly awesome to my mom!! Would definitely recommend them to anyone!! Thank you so much for being so great with her!!

Christy G.

The staff, the nurses, and Dr. Parsons were all amazing. Everything was simple and went well – very Bravo Zulu (military phrase meaning "well done"). In addition to the great staff at CardioVascular Health Clinic, the facilities were clean and well maintained. I have no complaints about anything. The whole experience was A1. I would recommend Dr. Parsons to anyone. He made a huge impact on my life.

John W.

Contact Us Today

MM slash DD slash YYYY
MM slash DD slash YYYY
protected by reCAPTCHA
Privacy - Terms

Copyright © 2024 CardioVascular Health Clinic. All Rights Reserved. Website by Healthcare Success.
Copy link
Powered by Social Snap