Most dog owners would agree – it’s fun to share your life with a four-legged friend. But did you know that dog ownership can literally lower your risk of death? On Friday, the journal of Scientific Reports released a study by a team of Swedish researchers which indicates that dog owners face a lower risk of death from cardiovascular disease (CVD) and death.
The study, which included over 3 million people over the course of 12 years, showed that single dog owners benefited the most from their canine companions. According to the study, single adults residing with a dog were 33% less likely to die and 36% less likely to die from a cardiovascular event than single individuals who didn’t own a dog.
Interestingly, owners of breeds which were originally bred for hunting (including terriers, retrievers, scent hounds and related dogs) were found to be offered the greatest protection from CVD.
Aside from the sheer joy that a dog brings to a person’s life – why do they prevent cardiovascular disease and death? According to the study, dog ownership can help alleviate psychosocial stress factors (such as social isolation), depression and loneliness. Additionally, dog ownership was found to be tied to lower “reactivity to stress,” and faster recovery of blood pressure following a stressful event.
One of the most obvious reasons that dogs may help extend life is the fact that dog ownership inspires more physical activity – dog owners are more likely to go for daily walks and enjoy outdoor activities, such as hiking and running.
Tove Fall, a senior author of the study and a professor at Uppsala University, added, “Other explanations include an increased well-being and social contacts or effects of the dog on the bacterial microbiome in the owner.”
Bottom line, dogs do more than just make us feel good – they are literally good for our health. Dr. Mike Knapton of the British Heart Foundation, is quoted in BBC News:
“Dog ownership has many benefits, and we may now be able to count better heart health as one of them.”
(Images via Pixabay)