A Japanese study says pet owners with chronic diseases appear to have healthier hearts than people living without an animal companion.
In findings published in the American Journal of Cardiology, researchers who studied nearly 200 people with diabetes, high blood pressure or high cholesterol found those with a pet had higher heart rate variability than those who didn't.
That means their hearts respond better to the body's changing requirements, such as beating faster during stressful situations.
Reduced heart rate variability has been linked to a higher risk of dying from heart disease.
The Japanese researchers cautioned they only looked at one day in the person's life and that other factors need to be considered in future research, such as the potential differences between different types of pets.