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Heavy petting allowed

What’s good for your pooch may be good for you, too. Petting a dog helps lower anxiety, lessen harmful stress hormones and reduce pulmonary artery pressure—great benefits for anyone but especially critical for people suffering from heart failure, say researchers from the University of California Medical Center. After studying 76 individuals with heart failure, the scientists found that doggie visits lasting as little as 12 minutes were more effective at improving heart and lung function and boosting spirits than visits with volunteers or time spent alone. Although the doctors didn’t study the effects on other conditions, a little pet therapy might be a safe and pleasant adjunct to your healthy living plan.