New research suggests the presence of pet dogs may help to control
hypertension in older adults.
WALTHAM ON THE WOLDS, England, Dec. 2, 2013 /CNW/ - The presence of a
pet dog can significantly lower the blood pressure of its owner as they
go about their day-to-day activities, new research by the University of
Maryland has shown. The study, which was supported by funding from the
WALTHAM® Centre for Pet Nutrition (WALTHAM®), looked at pet owners over 50 years of age with pre- to mild
hypertension and found that blood pressure was lower when pet dogs were
present. These results suggest that dogs may be an effective component
of interventions to help slow the development of hypertension in older
"Lowering blood pressure is the most important therapeutic goal in
treating hypertension," said lead study author, Erika Friedmann, a
Professor at the University of Maryland. "This is the first study to
examine blood pressure under normal living conditions with animals
present. It allowed us to evaluate the real-time impact of companion
animals in their owners' daily lives. This study enhances our
understanding of the potential positive impact of pet dogs on the blood
pressure of individuals with hypertension. The findings also reinforce
the growing body of evidence supporting the therapeutic role animals
can play in improving general and cardiovascular health."
The study was conducted with pet-owning adults aged 50 years or older
who lived independently and had mildly elevated blood pressure. A
majority of participants were already undergoing primary treatment for
hypertension, including medication to lower blood pressure. Unlike
previous studies, blood pressure was measured automatically every 20
minutes by a small device worn by the pet owners as they went about
their normal day-to-day activities. Taking measurements in this way,
over three separate days across a three-month study period, allowed the
researchers to take into account factors other than the pet's presence
that may have influenced blood pressure. These included the owner's
physical activity and mood.
Results showed that the presence of a dog was associated with
significantly lower systolic blood pressure (pressure when the heart
muscle contracts) and diastolic blood pressure (pressure when the heart
muscle relaxes). The researchers also looked at the impact of the
presence of pet cats on blood pressure. Their findings showed that on
average an older adult's diastolic blood pressure was lower and
systolic blood pressure was higher when their cat was present. This
result was unexpected, as earlier studies showed that cats are
associated with both decreased stress plus lower diastolic and systolic
blood pressure. Further work is needed to look at the nature of the
interaction and physical activity of cat owners.
The study was partly funded by WALTHAM®, the science institute for Mars Petcare. Dr Sandra McCune, Scientific
Leader - Human-Animal Interaction at WALTHAM®, explained the importance of this research: "We have long been aware of
the beneficial effect dogs can have on their owners' blood pressure.
This study confirms that the presence of dogs during normal day-to-day
life can lower blood pressure in adults with mild hypertension. WALTHAM® is proud to continue to support research in this key area."
The research has been published in Anthrozoös and is available online: http://bit.ly/1c8ATRQ
About the WALTHAM® Centre for Pet Nutrition
Celebrating 50 years of innovative science, the WALTHAM® Centre for Pet Nutrition serves as a leading scientific authority in
advancing the frontiers of research into the nutrition and health of
companion animals. Located in Leicestershire, England, the renowned
state-of-the-art science institute for Mars Petcare generates knowledge
that enables the development of innovative products that meet pets'
needs in a practical way. Since the publication of its first original
research in 1963, WALTHAM® has pioneered many important breakthroughs in the field of pet
nutrition and human-animal interaction, resulting in more than 1,700
publications, including over 600 peer-review scientific papers. Today,
WALTHAM® continues to collaborate with the world's foremost scientific
institutes, driving Mars Petcare's Vision to make A BETTER WORLD FOR
PETS® and providing the science and expertise that underpins leading
Mars Petcare brands such as WHISKAS®, PEDIGREE®, NUTRO®, TRILL®,
CESAR®, SHEBA®, DREAMIES®, AQUARIAN®, WINERGY®, BANFIELD Pet Hospital®
and the ROYAL CANIN® brand.
About Mars, Incorporated
In 1911, Frank C. Mars made the first Mars candies in his Tacoma,
Washington kitchen and established Mars' first roots as a confectionery
company. In the 1920s, Forrest E. Mars, Sr. joined his father in
business and together they launched the MILKY WAY® bar. In 1932,
Forrest, Sr. moved to the United Kingdom with a dream of building a
business based on the objective of creating a "mutuality of benefits
for all stakeholders" - this objective serves as the foundation of
Mars, Incorporated today. Based in McLean, Virginia, Mars has six
business segments including Petcare, Chocolate, Wrigley, Food, Drinks,
Symbioscience, and more than 72,000 Associates worldwide that are
putting its Principles into action to make a difference for people and
the planet through its performance.
Mars brands include: Petcare - PEDIGREE®, ROYAL CANIN®, WHISKAS®,
BANFIELD Pet Hospital®, NUTRO®, SHEBA®, DREAMIES® and CESAR®; Chocolate
- M&M'S®, SNICKERS®, DOVE®, GALAXY®, MARS®, MILKY WAY® and TWIX®;
Wrigley - DOUBLEMINT®, EXTRA®, ORBIT® and 5™ chewing gums, SKITTLES®
and STARBURST® candies, and ALTOIDS® AND LIFESAVERS® mints. Food -
UNCLE BEN'S®, DOLMIO®, EBLY®, MASTERFOODS®, SEEDS OF CHANGE® and
ROYCO®; Drinks - ALTERRA ® Coffee Roasterscoffee, THE BRIGHT TEA CO.®
tea, DOVE®/GALAXY® Hot Chocolate, and FLAVIA® brewer; Symbioscience -
COCOAVIA®, WISDOM PANEL® and SERAMIS®.
For more information, please visit http://www.mars.com. Follow us: facebook.com/mars, twitter.com/marsglobal, youtube.com/mars.
SOURCE: Mars Petcare and Waltham
For further information:
Jeanette Fielding, Global Director of Communications, MARS PETCARE, T: +32-491961941, E: Jeanette.firstname.lastname@example.org