Recent Blog Articles

Heart Health

The heartfelt benefits of pet ownership

December 1, 2022

Dogs and other pets can foster positive feelings and habits that may improve cardiovascular health.

photo of a woman taking a selfie of herself and her dog, outdoors in a field

Pet owners often describe their furry friends as much-loved members of the family. In addition, according to a survey released by the American Heart Association earlier this year, 95% of pet parents report that they rely on their pets for stress relief. Companion animals also provide other mental and physical benefits that may be good for your heart (see "The proof about cats and dogs").

"Pets provide us with a sense of belonging, connection, and contentment for which we all long," explains Dr. Beth Frates, director of lifestyle medicine and wellness in the Department of Surgery at Harvard-affiliated Massachusetts General Hospital. The excitement dogs often display when you arrive home makes you feel special and loved. Hearing a cat's gentle purring can be very soothing. Sitting quietly and stroking your pet's soft coat can trigger the release of oxytocin, the so-called love hormone, she adds.

To continue reading this article, you must log in.

Subscribe to Harvard Health Online for immediate access to health news and information from Harvard Medical School.

  • Research health conditions
  • Check your symptoms
  • Prepare for a doctor's visit or test
  • Find the best treatments and procedures for you
  • Explore options for better nutrition and exercise
Learn more about the many benefits and features of joining Harvard Health Online »

I'd like to receive access to Harvard Health Online for only $4.99 a month.

Sign Me Up

Already a member? Login ».

About the Author

photo of Julie Corliss

Julie Corliss, Executive Editor, Harvard Heart Letter

Julie Corliss is the executive editor of the Harvard Heart Letter. Before working at Harvard, she was a medical writer and editor at HealthNews, a consumer newsletter affiliated with The New England Journal of Medicine. She … See Full Bio
View all posts by Julie Corliss

Disclaimer:

As a service to our readers, Harvard Health Publishing provides access to our library of archived content. Please note the date of last review or update on all articles.

No content on this site, regardless of date, should ever be used as a substitute for direct medical advice from your doctor or other qualified clinician.

You might also be interested in…

Get Healthy, Get a Dog: The health benefits of canine companionship

Dog owners know that their furry friends offer unparalleled companionship. A growing body of research shows they also do much more. Owning a dog can prompt you to be more physically active—have leash, will walk.This Special Health Report, Get Healthy, Get a Dog: The health benefits of canine companionship, shows how having a dog can also reduce feelings of isolation and loneliness, help calm jagged nerves, and improve the lives of older individuals. Just petting a dog can lower the petter's blood pressure and heart rate (while having a positive effect on the dog as well).

Read More

Free Healthbeat Signup

Get the latest in health news delivered to your inbox!

Harvard Health Publishing Logo

Thanks for visiting. Don't miss your FREE gift.

The Best Diets for Cognitive Fitness, is yours absolutely FREE when you sign up to receive Health Alerts from Harvard Medical School

Sign up to get tips for living a healthy lifestyle, with ways to fight inflammation and improve cognitive health, plus the latest advances in preventative medicine, diet and exercise, pain relief, blood pressure and cholesterol management, and more.

Harvard Health Publishing Logo

Health Alerts from Harvard Medical School

Get helpful tips and guidance for everything from fighting inflammation to finding the best diets for weight loss...from exercises to build a stronger core to advice on treating cataracts. PLUS, the latest news on medical advances and breakthroughs from Harvard Medical School experts.

BONUS! Sign up now and
get a FREE copy of the
Best Diets for Cognitive Fitness

Harvard Health Publishing Logo

Stay on top of latest health news from Harvard Medical School.

Plus, get a FREE copy of the Best Diets for Cognitive Fitness.