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June 20, 2014 06:19 PM

Improving Dog And Human Health

Dog lovers, listen up! Research shows that your pet could actually be good for your health.

Rudy and Finn are a big part of Gary Winterfeld and his wife's lives.

"We've always had dogs. We grew up with dogs," Gary said.

The couple makes it a priority to walk their dogs every day — mainly to please their pets.

"They really enjoy it," Gary said.

But man's best friend could actually be good for your health. The American Heart Association says owning a dog is associated with reducing your risk of heart disease.

"If you walk your dog, there's studies showing that your blood pressure will be better and that your cholesterol profile will be better," Sanford Cardiologist Dr. Adam Stys said.

Even if you don't walk your dog, your furry friend could still be beneficial to your health.

"The stress reactions when it comes to our blood pressure and heart rate improve with pet owners. They improve in pet owners, and they improve even more when the pet is present," Stys said.

Cardiologist Dr. Adam Stys says he's noticed the health benefits of animals first-hand. He has three dogs and two cats.

"Can sense when I have a hard day at work — a lot of cases and radiation exposure," Stys said.

Still, Stys says the prescription for better heart health is not necessarily a pet.

"A pet is a companion. That's why you get a pet — not to reduce your cardiovascular risk but to have a companion," Stys said.

Which is exactly the main role the Winterfeld's best friends play.

"It just seems like part of the family," Gary said.

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