Dogs Can Help Us Live Longer, New Study Finds

Herbert Rhodes
November 18, 2017

The findings emerge from a study of more than 3.4 million people in Sweden whose medical and pet ownership records were analysed to investigate the potential health benefits of dog ownership.

Their study shows that dog owners had a lower risk of death due to cardiovascular disease.

According to the results, single dog owners had a 33% reduction in the risk of premature death and 11% reduction in the risk of cardiovascular disease when compared to single non-owners.

As a single dog owner, an individual is the sole person walking and interacting with their pet as opposed to married couples or households with children, which may contribute to greater protection from cardiovascular disease and death, said the study.

People who live alone seemed to benefit the most from man's best friend.

The researchers found that, in age and sex-adjusted analysis, dog ownership was inversely associated with risk of heart attack, ischemic stroke, heart failure and composite CVD, as well as cardiovascular mortality and all-cause mortality.

Fall and co-authors drew from a nation-wide register of more than 3.4 million Swedish adults between 40 and 80 years old for their trial.

33 pc reduction? Your dog is protecting you from this disease
Dog-owners live longer, say Swedish scientists

Dog owners were more likely to be younger than non-owners, Fall and colleagues wrote, and were more likely to live in rural areas.

Dogs. We already know that they are very good boys and girls. Just over 13 per cent were dog owners.

"These kind of epidemiological studies look for associations in large populations but do not provide answers on whether and how dogs could protect from cardiovascular disease", said senior author Tove Fall, an associate professor at Uppsala University. We know that dog owners in general have a higher level of physical activity, which could be one explanation to the observed results.

Bond commented that owners of hunting breeds may be getting more exercise because these dogs are more active as opposed to small dogs who do not require as much exercise. "Other explanations include an increased well-being and social contacts or effects of the dog on the bacterial microbiome in the owner".

"It is hard to say if there truly is a causal effect". They are. But a new study out of Sweden shows that not only do dogs add joy to our lives, they also add years to it.

While the research was carried out in Sweden, Fall does believe it may also apply to other countries, including the USA, since popular breeds and people's attitudes toward dog care are similar. (Might not get that one past the institutional review board.) But in the meantime, we'll take this association as further proof that dogs are the best and that's the end of the story.

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