Published: Sat, November 18, 2017
Research | By Jennifer Evans

Dogs May Melt Your Heart, but They Also Make It Healthier

Dogs May Melt Your Heart, but They Also Make It Healthier

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.

The study, published in Scientific Reports, used health and dog ownership information on individuals aged between 40 and 80 who had no prior cardiovascular disease.

"There are major differences between people who choose to get dogs and people who don't", said Dr Bradshaw.

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. While people who live alone are not necessarily lonely, many in the Swedish study seemed to benefit disproportionately from having a dog around.

While the study stops short of determining a direct "causal effect" between dog ownership and lower heart disease, it indicates that dog owners may have better health because they stay active by walking their pets, even in bad weather. That said, when they looked at a subset of Swedes-42,000 twins engaged in an ongoing national analysis-they didn't find a notable tie between dog ownership and longer life. Their owners amiraali much less frequently and later than people who have a family pet was not.

"We know that dog owners in general have a higher level of physical activity, which could be one explanation to the observed results", said Fall.

The dog is the most popular pet in the United Kingdom, with 24 percent of people owning one.

They were a third less likely to die during the study period. "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. However, owning any dog will reduce an owners risk of death, just to different extents, said Tove Fall, senior author of the study and Associate Professor in Epidemiology at Uppsala University.

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.

Fall added that because all participants of the study were Swedish, the results most closely apply to dog owners in Sweden or other "European populations with similar culture regarding dog ownership".

Experts in the United States agreed that the findings made sense.

More: Does Sleeping With Your Dog Help or Harm Your Sleep Quality? The relationship may work both ways though, with livelier dogs effectively demanding that their owners do not slip into an overly-sedentary lifestyle.

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