Want a Longer Leash on Life? Get a Dog

33 pc reduction? Your dog is protecting you from this disease

Dog owners have a significantly lower risk of death from cardiovascular disease and other causes, according to a report by a team of Swedish scientists that gives new meaning to the expression "man's best friend".

The research followed over 3 million people over 12 years and found that adults who lived alone - but with a dog -had a 33 percent less risk of dying.

"A very interesting finding in our study was that dog ownership was especially prominent as a protective factor in persons living alone, which is a group reported previously to be at higher risk of cardiovascular disease and death than those living in a multi-person household", Mwenya Mubanga, an author of the study and a Ph.D. student at the Department of Medical Sciences and the Science for Life Laboratory at the university, said in a statement.

"There might ... be differences between [dog] owners and non-owners already before buying a dog, which could have influenced our results, such as those people choosing to get a dog tending to be more active and of better health", Tove Fall, senior study author and associate professor of epidemiology at Uppsala University, said in the statement.

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

And how do dogs go about keeping one heart-healthy?




The team analysed national registries for people aged 40 to 80, and compared them to dog ownership registers. The investment, though, may be worth it. Dog ownership, new research shows, is a form of natural insurance offering health and longevity, along with the affection of an animal companion. "Other explanations include an increased well-being and social contacts or effects of the dog on the bacterial microbiome in the owner".

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.

The researchers believe that the single dog owners benefit from both walking and interacting with their pet.

While the research was carried out in Sweden, Fall does believe it may also apply to other countries, including the US, since popular breeds and people's attitudes toward dog care are similar.

The researchers stressed that while these types of studies show a relationship between the environmental factor and diseases in a large population, they do not provide answers to if and how dogs actually protect from heart disease and premature death.

"We have a colder climate so we have indoor dogs where owners take their dogs out for a walk".

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