Dog ownership linked to living longer, study finds

Posted November 18, 2017

Scientists managed to establish that on average dog owners live longer than those who have not had Pets for a few months longer.

"The responsibilities associated with dog ownership impose mandatory daily exercise - a schedule which can not be impacted by adverse weather conditions, personal commitments or mood swings", Wolf-Klein said.

"Dog ownership is associated with a lower risk of cardiovascular disease in single households and with a reduced risk of cardiovascular and all-cause death in the general population", the study concludes.

The researchers examined seven national databases in Sweden, including two that track dog ownership, and focused on people aged 40 to 80.

A study released shows that a dog really is your best friend. They were also 11% less likely to have a heart attack, an effect that is not shown among people who live with others and is nearly certainly attributable to our children's leftover french fries. They focused on 3.4 million people who had no history of cardiovascular disease in 2001, and followed their health records-as well as whether they registered as a dog owner-for about 12 years. So, is owning a dog connected to better health?

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People who live with others also saw Fido-related benefits, but not as much as the single folks.

But it's also possible-and very likely, says senior author Tove Fall, a veterinarian and associate professor of epidemiology-that taking care of a dog prompts people to stay active and live a healthier lifestyle. Other studies have found that living alone leads to increased risk of heart disease.

Researchers at Uppsala University in Sweden have posited the theory that this is due to the fact that dogs have the ability to change their owner's bacterial microbiome by exposing them to bacteria they had not yet encountered. In the study, Fall analysed the effects of different breeds and found that owners of dogs originally bred for hunting, such as terriers, retrievers, and scent hounds, had the lowest risk of cardiovascular disease.

Although these large-scale studies based on massive data sets like the national registries in Sweden are an interesting and helpful way of finding associations, it doesn't provide specific answers about how having a dog improves heart health. Studies have also suggested that dog owners have lower reactivity to stress and faster recovery of blood pressure following stressful events.

"Dog owners in particular tend to be a little more extroverted, or outgoing" Kay Joubert, Director Companion Animal Services at PAWS, told The Huffington Post.