Dog ownership linked to living longer, study finds

Nov 18, 2017, 01:12
Dog ownership linked to living longer, study finds

The study, which is the largest to date on the health implications of owning a dog, suggested that some of the reasons dog owners may have a lower risk of mortality and cardiovascular disease were because dog owners walk more.

Commenting on the study, which spanned 11 years, lead study author, Mwenya Mubanga said: "The results showed that single dog owners had a 33% reduction in risk of death and 11% reduction in risk of heart attack".

The study also says that having a dog increases people's motivation to be more active and add more physical activity into their lives, especially in single-person households where the individuals are exclusively responsible for walking and exercising with their pets.

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There is a slightly lower benefit to owning a canine for those who don't live alone - the risk was cut by only 15 per cent. Researchers even considered other factors such as smoking and body weight to make sure the results were as accurate as possible. Little Fido also gives you some much-needed social interaction if you live alone.

They found that dog owners had a lower risk of death due to cardiovascular disease than people who did not report owning a dog, as well as a lower risk of death from other causes.

"Another interesting finding was that owners to dogs from breed groups originally bred for hunting were most protected", Mubanga added. 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. "Lots of people think that nowadays we have poor diversity in microbiomes, and it might be that dogs have a positive effect on this by bringing in dirt and bacteria", Fall said.

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While the study does not speculate on why the creatures might be better for life longevity Professor Fall speculated that "there could be direct effects of having a dog, such as more motivation for physical activity".

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.

"And people who get dogs might be different from non-owners in other ways before they choose to get a dog, which could have influenced our results, for example they might already be more interested in physical activity or have a higher level of health". It adds adds to mounting evidence about the benefits of living with a canine companion.

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Instead, dog owners may just be healthier to begin with. They also probably apply to the United States, she says.

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