By Dr. Brian McDonough

By Dr. Brian McDonough, Medical Editor

PHILADELPHIA (CBS) – Are you a dog lover? If you are somebody who fits that description I have good news for you.

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The American Heart Association reviewed more than 30 studies exploring the health benefits of pet ownership. What they found is that pet ownership is associated with lower blood pressure, better cholesterol, and a decreased incidence of obesity. Dog owners were 54% more likely to obtain the recommended level of physical activity than non-owners.

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Now for the part of the report that will get cat owners mad at me. The association did not hold in studies that looked at cats and other pets. But, then again, who walks a cat on a leash?

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However, when you look at the big picture, pet ownership also seems to help the body’s cardiovascular response to stress.