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Fluffy and Fido are good for your heart

Monday - 5/13/2013, 5:17am  ET

dog Paisley (Provided by Danielle DeForest )
A study of more than 5,200 adults found dog owners more likely to get the American Heart Association's recommended amount of physical activity. (Courtesy of Danielle DeForest )
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WASHINGTON - The latest in the battle of cats versus dogs has Fido pulling ahead of Fluffy when it comes to your heart health, although just owning a pet could lower your risk of heart disease.

An American Heart Association committee reviewed studies that dealt how pets influence of the health of people.

"Pet ownership, particularly dog ownership, is probably associated with a decreased risk of heart disease." said Dr. Glenn N. Levine, professor at Baylor College of Medicine in Houston, Texas and chair of the review committee, in a news release.

In the U.S., there are more than 78 million dogs and 86 million cats. According to the American Pet Products Association, 39 percent of households have at least one dog and 33 percent have at least one cat.

The committee says the research shows owning pets is "probably" associated with an increased survival rate for heart patients, but the studies are not definitive about whether owning a pet directly reduces risk of heart disease.

"It may be simply that healthier people are the ones that have pets, not that having a pet actually leads to or causes reduction in cardiovascular risk," Levine said.

Other benefits health benefits of pet ownership may include lower cholesterol levels, blood pressure, less obesity and less stress.

But in the epic battle of cats versus dogs, research show dogs may help owners reduce their risks of heart problems because dog owners are more active.

After all, when was the last time you went for a jog with your cat?

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